By Ogova Ondego
Published September 4, 2013
HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, the Screen adaptation of critically acclaimed novelby The Orange Prize-winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, shall make its African premiere at the third edition of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) scheduled for November 10-17, 2013 in Tinapa, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. Chioma Ude, Founder and Executive Director of AFRIFF, announced at a press conference in Lagos on September 3, 2013 that this Biyi Bandele film shall be the opning movie of the festival.
The film, which was shot on location in Calabar, is set in the Nigeria of the late 1960s; the story follows the intertwining lives of several characters before and during the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970. The story is told through three points of view: Ugwu, a 13-year-old boy from a small village who becomes a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the warm, progressive and beautiful daughter of well-to-do city-dwellers; and Richard, a white expatriate originally from England, who falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister.
Thandie Newton takes on the role of Olanna, with Anika Noni Rose as her sister Kainene. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the role of revolutionary professor Odenigbo, with John Boyega as his houseboy Ugwu. Joseph Mawle plays the English writer Richard.
Other veterans in the cast include Genevieve Nnaji, Gloria Young, Zach Orji, Tina Mba and Nigerian singer and actress, Onyeka Onwenu; Cobhams Asuquo and singer-songwriter Keziah Jones were also involved in the production, producing original music for the soundtrack.
A British/Nigerian co-production shot at Tinapa Film Studio in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom and co-produced by BAFTA award winner Andrea Calderwood (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND shot in Uganda) and Gail Ega (THE CONSTANT GARDENER shot in Kenya), HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is Nigeria’s most ambitious and most expensive film to date, with a budget of N1.27 billion (about US$8 million).
Also Speaking at the press parley in Lagos was Zimbabwe-born Keith Shiri, AFRIFF’s Programmer and Jury Coordinator, who announced that the Festival’s Closing Film shall be OF GOOD REPORT, a film noir by South African Jahmil XT Qubeka.
Shiri said that OF GOOD REPORT had been the most talked-about movie at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in South Africa which was held in July 2013.
“OF GOOD REPORT had been scheduled as the festival’s opening movie, but when the day arrived, instead of the movie’s opening credits, the festival audience was welcomed with the on-screen message, ‘This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publication Board, in terms of the Film and Publications Act 1996. Unfortunately we may not legally screen the film OF GOOD REPORT as to do so would constitute a criminal offense’,” Shiri said, explaining that “The Film Board’s decision was based on a scene between a teacher and a pupil that it said constituted child pornography.”
The ban was later overturned on appeal and OF GOOD REPORT was screened on the last day of DIFF, classified as suitable for viewers aged 16 years and above.
So what is OF GOOD REPORT about?
The story is about a seemingly gentle high school teacher who has a quiet passion for literature and is presented to a new school in rural South Africa as a man ‘of good report’. On meeting a mesmerising girl in a local bar, the teacher falls for her only for her to walk into his classroom the next day; will he go with conventional wisdom that describes what he shares with the pupil as forbidden or will he cling onto what has brought so much joy into his life and face the consequences? Like everything not destined to be, the ‘perfect love story’ between teacher and pupil must find an end all its own.