Tony Abulu (301415)

“For me, it is never about how much money a film makes, because I care more about the quality and potential of the movie I create,” said Tony Abulu, the Harlem-based Nigerian filmmaker “When platforms like Netflix view my content, they see the authentic Afrocentric nature. They see the potential impact the film has on a global scale.”

Nigerian filmmaker Tony Abulu revealed to the Amsterdam News that his film “Doctor Bello” will premiere Feb. 15 on Netflix. “Doctor Bello” stars Isaiah Washington, Vivica A. Fox, Jimmy Jean-Louis and Nigerian superstar actress Genevieve Nnaji. The film tells a story about mourning parents, Dr. Michael Durant and his estranged wife, who lost their only daughter to cancer. As he reflects upon his recent loss, Dr. Durant tries to save a seven-year-old boy who will soon have the same fate as his daughter if a cure isn’t found. Almost giving up, a Nigerian nurse in the hospital introduces Doctor Bello who is known as a traditional healer. He gives the boy a potion that ends up saving his life. Refusing to reveal the source of the elixir for proliferation, Dr. Bello is arrested and charged with medical malpractice, Dr. Durant is suspended and the Nigerian nurse is fired. Soon Dr. Bello falls critically ill in jail, and Durant must risk everything to find the potion in the deep hinterlands sky mountains of Yorubaland in bustling Nigeria to save his life. 

“This is a great opportunity for a different type of storytelling,” said Abulu. “There is more culture, more spirituality. This movie includes everything from Yoruba, Hausa, to the hinterland, not just Lagos and Abuja. We showcase the importance of the holistic approach in medicine.” Abulu continued, “We film on ground, with the people. In ‘Doctor Bello’ we show African Americans in the States and Africans on the Continent, and we join all the dots. Trust me, it is a great film, and now everyone will get the opportunity on this platform to see us portrayed in a positive and authentic light.”

“Doctor Bello” will also be Abulu’s most ambitious project, which premiered at the prestigious Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. and AMC Theaters.

Abulu is a father of two daughters and resides in Harlem, New York. For the past 36 years, Abulu wanted to get the true experience of what it’s like to be Black in America. He became the CEO of the Black Ivory Communications, the multi-media company including expertise in publishing, entertainment and international marketing. He is also the president of the Filmmakers Association of Nigeria. He has met and worked with several African American politicians, scholars and Pan-Africanists such as Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, Professor James Smalls and Dr. Leonard Jeffries. Abroad too he has enjoyed relationships with chiefs and with the current Oba of Benin (King) Ewuare II.

As he creates films, Abulu told the Amsterdam News that he hopes to build bridges between Africa, African Americans and the entire Black diaspora. He is well-known for his films like “Back To Africa,” “American Dream” and “Crazy like a Fox.”

Abulu also has experience as the editor for the Black Ivory magazine, known for strong Pan-Africanism and entrepreneurial opportunities. Abulu makes countless trips to Africa often, and even led a delegation of American journalists to the historic Abuja Carnival and cultural festival in 2006.  Currently, he is engaged in supporting young people in the arts, stating that, “Governments must support youth in their creativity. That is the future.”

With his he promotes music, Nollywood film industry, African fashion, music and culture. He also urges “monetization strategies for the African creative industry,” he repeats often that “Africa holds the key to uncharted authentic stories which can be monetized through multiple distribution platforms.”

His fairly new monetization platform, he says, is geared toward “global African arts and entertainment aimed at transforming Africa through her informal economy.”

As his “Dr. Bello” gets ready to premiere on Netflix next week, the passionate and creative at heart filmmaker Abulu told the Amsterdam News from his Harlem home, “We must support ourselves, write our own stories. Personally, I feel the people who love Afrocentric films have not been adequately serviced.

“If it’s not shows like ‘Bridgerton’ then people are not watching. I told Netflix to give me the opportunity to showcase my Afrocentric film. I believe it will be enthusiastically supported by viewers. I asked them to put their money where their mouth is. If the people respond, then Netflix will respond, and we will get more films like this.”

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