Linguistic Artistry in Screenwriting: Elevating Local Language in Film – In Conversation With Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún

Feb 1, 2024

In the latest episode of In Conversation With…, we embarked on a fascinating journey with Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, a Nigerian linguist, writer, translator, scholar, and cultural activist. The spotlight of this engaging dialogue was on “Linguistic Artistry in Screenwriting: Elevating Local Language in Film.”

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún’s story is a mix of language magic, creative storytelling, and a rich history of contributions to the film world. From translating scripts for EbonyLife Studios’ Elesin Oba (2022) to training actors to speak the Yoruba language for Hollywood’s WWII movie The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare and co-directing an upcoming documentary on Prof. Wole Soyinka, Kola’s impact spans local and global cinema. 

In this talk, we explore his language artistry and dive into the fascinating connection between language and filmmaking. Get ready for a journey through the cinematic lens with Kola Tubosun. Dive into the recap.


Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún


A Linguist in the Film Reel: Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún’s Cinematic Contributions

The conversation commenced by unraveling Kola’s cinematic journey, exploring his roles in prominent film projects such as Elesin Oba, Aisha, and The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. As a linguist, Kola seamlessly transitioned into the film industry, leaving an indelible mark on scripts and language authenticity.


Identity Layers: Linguist, Writer, and More

Delving into Kola’s diverse roles, we uncovered the layers of his identity—primarily a Linguist, followed by a writer, and an array of skills contributing to his rich insights. His impact across language technology, literature, and journalism came to the forefront.


Elesin Oba Netflix movie

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún helped translate the script for “Elesin Oba” from English to Yoruba | Netflix

Transcending Linguistic Boundaries: Kola’s Cinematic Initiation

Kola’s conscious immersion into the world of films was unveiled, sparked by early experiences transcribing the Yoruba language in movies like Saworoide (1999). The conversation explored his involvement in the translation of Elesin Oba (2022), navigating the challenge of maintaining the story’s essence while infusing his creative touch.


Local Languages on the Cinematic Stage: Authenticity and Emotional Depth

Addressing the prominence of local languages in Nigerian cinema, Kola emphasized their role in infusing authenticity and emotional depth into storytelling. The discussion touched on financial constraints, urging filmmakers to venture beyond these barriers for the greater preservation of languages.


Empowering Storytellers: Navigating Unfamiliar Native Languages

Offering advice to storytellers unfamiliar with their native languages, Kola passionately encouraged them to embrace the challenge. His simple yet empowering advice was to dive into the narrative, seek assistance if needed, and collaborate with language experts to refine the script.


Mokalik movie by Kunle Afolayan

“Mokalik” is Kola’s favourite Africa movie for its simplicity | KAP


Favorite Mediums and African Cinematic Gems

The interview ventured into Kola’s favorite storytelling medium, his preferred African film (Mokalik), and his perspectives on filmmakers adapting literary works for the screen. Drawing parallels with Chimamanda Adichie’s collaboration with Biyi Bandele for Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), Kola highlighted the importance of aligning visions between authors and filmmakers.


Cinematic Insights: Documentaries, Non-Fiction, and Entry-Level Opportunities

As the conversation unfolded, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún offered insights into the intricacies of working on documentaries and expressed his affinity for non-fiction writing. The discussion concluded with a glimpse into entry-level opportunities for writers in the film industry, particularly in the domain of language. Some of these opportunities are:

  • Subtitle transcriptions
  • Translation from one language to another
  • Language coaches who help actors speak fluently as a character. 


In essence, In Conversation With Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún not only shed light on the fusion of linguistics and filmmaking but also sparked a profound exploration of language’s pivotal role in the cinematic world. 

Stay tuned for more enlightening conversations unraveling the diverse threads of creativity on Albantsho’s platform.


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