Insights from 'Half Heaven-' Carista Asonganyi on Cameroon's Debut in Nigerian Cinemas - Nollywire

Insights from ‘Half Heaven:’ Carista Asonganyi on Cameroon’s First Film in Nigerian Cinemas

In June 2023, the Cameroonian film ‘Half Heaven,’ executive produced by Carista Asonganyi, made its debut in Nigerian cinemas, courtesy of a strategic partnership with FilmOne Entertainment, the Nigerian distribution powerhouse.

This innovative collaboration not only marked a significant milestone but also underscored the potential of cross-border film distribution within Africa. Asonganyi aptly puts it, “Yes, the collaboration with FilmOne brought a lot of visibility to the film, and I don’t think we would have been able to access some of the places we did without them.”

Featuring a stellar ensemble cast comprising Nollywood veteran Chidi Mokeme and Cameroonian luminaries Syndy Emade, Seehofer Roland, and Mavis Ann Mohvu, ‘Half Heaven’ epitomised the fusion of Nigerian and Cameroonian talent. Its theatrical release in Nigeria garnered about 14 million naira over a seven-week run, underscoring the appetite for diverse storytelling among African audiences.

Indeed, Nigeria’s burgeoning cinema landscape, boasting the largest number of screens in West Africa and record-breaking box office revenue, provided an ideal platform for ‘Half Heaven’ to flourish. With iconic films like ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ setting new benchmarks, the Nigerian market exemplifies unparalleled growth and revenue generation within the continent’s film industry.

‘Half Heaven’ faced initial challenges stemming from a lack of historical data, hindering precise projections of its box office earnings. Asonganyi candidly acknowledges this hurdle, emphasising the imperative for African filmmakers to navigate the intricacies of cross-border distribution with foresight and adaptability. “Inasmuch as we had a plan and our projections, we also didn’t have a lot of data to go off of,” Asonganyi observes.

The film’s release in Cameroon further illuminates the untapped potential of local cinema markets, with aspirations for enhanced infrastructure and expanded screen time to maximise box office returns.

Despite its modest performance compared to Nollywood blockbusters like ‘A Tribe Called Judah,’ Asonganyi notes the importance of catering to diverse markets. While ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ achieved record-breaking success within Nigeria and Ghana, its performance in Francophone African countries was lacklustre. In contrast, ‘Half Heaven’ demonstrated the potential of tapping into the Francophone market, grossing over ₦1 million in a single location in Cameroon alone.

Reflecting on the film’s journey, Asonganyi expresses her pride in breaking new ground for Cameroonian cinema. She remarks, “I feel very proud. Again, this is the first time that a Cameroonian movie is showing in Nigerian cinemas.” However, she also acknowledges the need to strengthen the home market, recognising that building momentum locally can pave the way for greater success on the international stage.

Despite Nigeria’s prominence as a target market for ‘Half Heaven,’ the film’s performance in Cameroon served as a poignant reminder of the untapped potential within local cinema markets. Asonganyi reflects, “It’s important to note that although Nigeria was a key target market for ‘Half Heaven,’ the performance of the film in Cameroon opens my mind as a filmmaker to the fact that the Cameroonian market has a lot of potential.” This dual focus on both local and international markets underscores Asonganyi’s commitment to building momentum at the grassroots level.

Asonganyi emphasises the need for African filmmakers to embrace this approach, stating, “I am all about pan-Africanism when it comes to sharing our culture and our shared experiences as Africans. We see this in other aspects, when it comes to music, and I think film is one area where we could really collaborate on our shared experiences.”

She believes that by incorporating indigenous actors and cultural elements from various African regions, filmmakers can create titles with cross-cultural appeal, thereby expanding their audience base both within Africa and beyond.

‘Half Heaven’ is currently streaming on Prime Video.

>>> Watch trailer and see more details about titles from this story: Half Heaven
>>> Learn more about the people mentioned in this story: Mavis Ann Mohvu, Seehofer Roland, Syndy Emade, Chidi Mokeme, FilmOne Entertainment, Carista Asonganyi
Mikoro Revives Family Films
Watch interview with Niyi Akinmolayan now
Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

No spam. Only updates about new titles and trending stories in Nollywood.