Fatimah Binta Gimsay’s journey to Nollywood is a testament to the power of shooting your shot. Wanting to explore a different path from the one her university PR and journalism degree offered, she sent cold messages to a filmmaker in 2016. Fatimah, Fatou or FBG, as her colleagues and growing community of viewers call her, has been on a roll since then. 

After becoming a household name in Nigerian primetime TV — working on hit shows like “Battleground” and “Enakhe”, and earning AMVCA nominations for MTV “Shuga” Naija and “Slum King” — she has gone on to cement her name as one of the indie filmmakers to watch in Nollywood with four short films, “Omozi”, “Ijo”, “Yasmeen” and “Why Am I Angry”. From Canada to Sweden to Ghana, her films have won awards and screened at international film festivals, including Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), the biggest on the continent. 

In 2024, she took things up a notch, writing and executive producing her first feature film, “Alli Eid Dinner”, which aired on Africa Magic on March 10, 2024, right at the cusp of Ramadan. Starring Wendy Lawal-Simpson, Abdul Tijani-Ahmed, Temiloluwa Fosudo and Wunmi ‘Tuase, the full-length film is Fatimah’s take on Eid holiday traditions, something we rarely see on our screens.

We spoke with FBG as she shared the story behind the film and why it was important to share an Eid story reflecting values of love and family everyone can relate to. 

What’s “Alli Eid Dinner” about?

It’s about a woman who desperately wants to bring her family together for a late Eid dinner, but things go left because everyone arrives with secrets, and she’s unable to control the night. 

How did the story come to life?

I don’t have personal experience with secrets at Eid dinners, but we all hear stories about different family gatherings. I’ve always wanted to tell an Eid story, especially after watching “How to Ruin Christmas” and “A Naija Christmas”. Those two films triggered the need even more. 

I had an old story about a woman getting remarried in her 50s, and I found a way to rework it when I was asked to submit pitches to Africa Magic. Luckily, it got selected, and I developed and co-wrote it with Owumi Ugbeye.

Why was it important to fill the Eid holiday film gap in Nollywood? 

The two Eids are very important in Nigeria. It’s the famous “Which one is the ram holiday?” It’s relatable, normal and very us. Yet, we’re stuck with weddings and funeral stories when there’s room to expand. I recently tweeted about coming for Christmas, more Eid stories, the New Yam festival, and so much more. 

What was your favourite part of writing and producing the story?  

Putting the project together was fun. It took an amazing village of people. It was a beautiful collaboration between every member of the cast and crew. I enjoyed the casting process and I really enjoyed my days on the set. It was a short time; we filmed from Sunday to Friday. Every day was memorable because it felt like working with friends.

The outfits in the film were stunning, with the vibrant colours. How did you choose the looks? 

I give all that credit to the wardrobe team. Mary Bukky Oyinlola, the costume designer, and her people came through for us. I shared a mood board, and the wardrobe team delivered better than I’d imagined.

As an indie filmmaker, what was a difficult moment when filming this project?

“Alli Eid Dinner” is not an indie project, thankfully. Africa Magic commissioned it. However, the most difficult moment on set was losing footage of the main dinner. The morning after filming our dinner scene, the post-production supervisor called me to the side and explained that we had accidentally lost footage. 

See, I’m awful in stressful situations because I become dismissive when there are no solutions. I don’t like complaining or nagging, just bring solutions or leave me alone. 

Learning we had lost footage sent me to sleep straight. I literally ordered a burger and slept for hours. At some point, we tried to pay to fix it, but we ended up just reshooting the scenes we lost. It cost us out of our personal money, but we did what we needed to do to save our film.

“Alli Eid Dinner”, like all your projects, is centred around women. What does this mean to you?

It feels normal to me. I’m very lucky to have talented and hardworking women around me. It means so much that I get to tell stories about layered and super interesting women. With “Alli Eid Dinner”, we had colourful female characters that triggered so many reactions, and I was very proud of how they translated on screen. 

What’s your favourite holiday movie of all time?

As a child, it was “Miracle on the 34th Street” (the 1994 one) and “Home Alone”. I still don’t have one of all time because it’s hard to pick. I also enjoyed “How to Ruin Christmas” Season 1. It really made me feel happy at the time it came out. 

What’s your favourite Eid tradition? 

Dressing up and taking my Eid naps. 

What would you bring to the Alli Eid dinner if you were a guest? 

My famous roasted chicken and brownies.

What other types of Eid stories would you like to see on screen?  

I’ll take anything right now. We don’t have enough, so I’ll really take anything. 

What’s next for FBG? 

HIRE FBG! I’m eager to do more work and tell many more stories. I want to work with people, collaborate, and again, tell more stories.

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