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Nigerian Military Thriller, ’76, To Premiere In London’s BFI Film Festival

MICHAEL AKINOLA

Rita Dominic and Ramsey Nouah in 76
Rita Dominic and Ramsey Nouah in 76

The multi-million dollar Nigerian military thriller, ’76, has been selected to have its European premiere at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival.

This landmark recognition for the Izu Ojukwu’s tense political drama was announced in London Wednesday as part of the full programme for the 60th edition of the festival.

This is coming on the heels of the film’s schedule to make a global opening at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival later this month, thus making it the first Nollywood film to be chosen by both Toronto and London film festivals back to back and is a new milestone in African cinema.

The landmark Nigerian cinematic production, according to the programme, will have its Red Carpet London premiere on 15 October. It will be attended by all the key cast, crew and special guests. The train will then move to Lagos, Nigeria on 11 November with its African premiere before being released nationwide in cinemas from 25 November.

The film, a love story embedded in treason, intrigue, patriotism and faith is set in Ibadan, Nigeria, against the backdrop of transition and the struggle for political stability in 1976 and is inspired by real life events that led to the assassination of the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation with over 170 million people and is home to Nollywood, the third largest film industry in the world.

The film, cast and crew have received a major boost with a high profile endorsement from the Head of State who succeeded the assassinated Murtala Muhammed at the time; General Olusegun Obasanjo, who later went on to become a two term President making him both a military and civilian leader of the largest black nation in the world.

Obasanjo described ’76 as “the best view of one of the worst times in our nation’s history. A must watch and an insight that was long overdue.

“Watching the attention to detail and hearing my own voice in February 1976, brought out both sweet and sour memories as Murtala Muhammed was not only my boss, he was my friend. I cannot attest to what went on in the homes as we were focused on the field, but this film gives even I, an insight into that,” Obasanjo enthused.

Set during the era of military assassinations and political unrest in Nigeria, the movie also had the full approval and endorsement of the Nigerian Army and the Murtala Muhammed family. It was shot inside the confines of a military base, another first in Nigeria’s cinematic history.

‘76 comes 40 years after the actual events and follows four years of work by the multiple award winning Director Izu Ojukwu and the production teams of Adonis Production and Princewill’s Trust, a brainchild of Prince Tonye Princewill and Adonijah Owiriwa who are the film’s executive producers.

Africa Magic, a Multichoice subsidiary also signed on as partners.

Speaking on the movie, executive producer, Adonijah Owiriwa stated,“Our objective was to show audiences, amongst other things, what the wives of officers had to go through. Military coups were our legacy. In some ways, we are still trying to recover from this. Everyone sees and hears the perspective of the officers. But the woman’s story stays silent. We wanted to highlight the strength and the vulnerabilities of the typical African woman through the eyes of officers’ wives. This is a filmmaker’s small contribution to raising their volume.”

The film stars renowned and respected Nollywood megastars Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesinma, Memry Savanhu, Daniel K Daniel, Debo Oguns and Adams Shuaibu and a host of other rising stars.

At the centre of this very gripping romantic thriller is the charismatic, ‘Captain Joseph Dewa’, played by Ramsey Nouah who is indicted by the military for his alleged role in the coup.

The BFI London Film Festival will take place at venues across the United Kingdom capital from 5-16 October 2016.

In an exciting development for the 60th edition of the LFF, it will also see the launch, with the BFI and LFF’s official Time Partner IWC Schaffhausen, of a significant new bursary award to support exceptional new and emerging UK filmmakers.

The IWC Schaffhausen Filmmakers Bursary Award in association with the BFI is a £50,000 award to benefit an outstanding British writer, director, or writer/director whose first or second fiction feature film premieres at the BFI London Film Festival.

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