It’s not been documented much abroad, but Nigeria has one of the most vibrant, active film scenes in the world; over the last couple of decades, it’s overtaken the United States to become the nation that produces the second largest quantities of film per year, behind only India. And while the films and stars of “Nollywood,” as it’s nicknamed, haven’t yet crossed over to the Western mainstream, it’s surely only a matter of time before their influence becomes felt. And now, it’s been announced that Nigerian backers are teaming with British producers for a star-laden adaptation of a novel that tells a key part of the nation’s history.
Screen Daily reports that producers Andrea Calderwood (“The Last King of Scotland,” “Generation Kill”) and Gail Egan (“Happy-Go-Lucky,” “The Constant Gardener”) have fully financed, thanks to help from both Nigerian private equity and the British Film Instute, their adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel “Half of a Yellow Sun.” The novel, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007, is set during the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970, when the south of Nigeria attempted to secede and form their own country, the Republic of Biafra, and tracks a revolutionary university professor, his lover, her sister, a British ex-pat, and their houseboy, who are cought up in the conflict across the 1960s.
Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele, who’s had a number of successes on the London stage, including his adaptation of seminal post-colonial novel “Things Fall Apart,” is making his directorial debut with the project, and he’s assembled quite an impressive cast, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dominic Cooper and Thandie Newton all locked into the film. The trade don’t have a firm word on who each is playing, but our guess is that Ejiofor will play university professor Odenigbo, Newton his lover, Olanna, and Cooper will play Richard, a British ex-pat in Nigeria to study.
It’s a pretty terrific cast, not least a rare lead role for Ejiofor, one of our favorite working actors, while the presence of Cooper hot off “The Devil’s Double” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” will undoubtedly help the film internationally. Filming starts in March, before Ejiofor segues to Steve McQueen’s “Twelve Years A Slave,” so we’re unlikely to see this before 2013, but it certainly seems to be a film to keep an eye on.
Things I don’t like about this.
“Last King of Scotland” (urggh)
“The Constant Gardener” (bleh)
“Thandie Newton” (really though??!)
“Dominic Cooper” (really?)
All of this!
Why is Thandie Newton playing Olanna?
I wish they would stop casting Sophie and Thandie in every African movie, their accents are so wack. Give Genevieve Nnaji or another nollywood actress a chance and I hope they don’t try.and make Richard the central character.
Not only that, both Sophie and Thandie are mixed race, Olanna is not. I don’t remember how Olanna was physically described in the book (something does tell me she was described as light skinned while her twin sister was darker) but both her parents are Igbo. I mean Chiwetel Ejiofor is to play Odenigbo! I don’t think Genevieve would look bad as Olanna either. Also I’m curious to know who’d play Olanna’s twin sister in this movie.
And we know that the chances of Richard being the central character are high. I just…don’t know how I feel about this movie.
That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m just wondering what role Adichie played in all of this.
I get so tired of Western-made African films doing these sorts of things. When you think of “The Last King of Scotland” one doesn’t necessarily think of just how evil Amin was to the people of Uganda. Instead, one thinks of a white man made prisoner by a vicious African dictator, and who just happened to be one of the few closest to Amin who really saw Amin for what he was - or tried to do anything about it.
And of course “The Constant Gardener” makes Quayle and his angelic wife the white saviours of a pharmaceutical company’s fraudulent practices. Who cares that the story was actually based on real events that took place in Kano, Nigeria (not Kenya but hey, Africa looks the same wherever, neh).
I wonder if Thandie will be able to successfully pull of a Nigerian accent because I’ll be damned if they have British accents in the film. I’m confident in Ejiofor’s abilities as he’s Igbo and has strong ties to Nigeria. But Newton just doesn’t seem right in any way.
What utter crap with the casting apart from Ejiofor. I’m not looking forward to this.
This just totally ruined my day! Seriously.
Don’t script-writers ever read the novels before filimg movies?? How on earth is Thandie Newton supposed to play both Olanna and Kainene, when it is clearly said that they are fraternal twins, hence not identical! Uggh! I always pictured Olanna to be a more round-figured light in complexion Igbo woman, but not Newton’s complexion. And Kainene is supposed to be super skinny and dark-skinned, not Newton’s complexion.
I am soo so disappointed, but I guess Chimamanda Adichie did not have much say in this, so I’ll forgive her for that. I just cannot believe how Biyi Bandele can do this. At least he’s the Nigerian and should know best, but hey, I guess its all about the cash to him and not about transmitting the real message of this serious topic in Nigeria’s history.