ABOVE PHOTO: Half Of A Yellow Sun
By Joe Cunningham
shadow and act
You don’t hear of many British-Nigerian co-productions, but judging by the talent involved in the one that’s currently making its way to screens then we’d argue the two filmmaking nations should join forces more often. The British Film Institute and a Nigerian private equity firm have combined to bring the bestselling (and Orange Prize for Fiction-winning) novel “Half of a Yellow Sun” to the screen and assembled a pretty impressive cast in doing so. Dominic Cooper, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Game of Thrones” star Joseph Mawle and “Attack the Block” breakout actor John Boyega are all involved, and they even snagged themselves a Disney Princess in the form of Anika Noni Rose (“The Princess and the Frog”).
The story plays out to the backdrop of the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran war, in which the south of Nigeria tried to establish Biafra as an independent republic. Described as an epic love story, here’s the official synopsis released by the film’s producers which tells us what role each starring actor will play:
…Weaving together the lives of four people swept up in the turbulence of war. Olanna (Newton) and Kainene (Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests, and surprises herself when she falls in love with Richard (Mawle) an English writer. Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements, and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire country and the world.
The film has been shooting since March in locations in the U.K. and Nigeria, and we’ve now got our first look at the film. It’s a shot that depicts the lighter side of the film – and that’s probably a better way to entice audiences rather than kicking off with images of the “chilling violence which shocked the entire country and the world” – and shows Newton and Ejiofor dancing and celebrating, presumably at their wedding. It is a nice pic to kick off with and it will encourage anyone that’s hoping for a beautifully shot look at Nigeria when the film’s release premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it’s currently seeking distribution.