These are interesting times in Nigeria’s movie industry. Nigerian movies are breaking the glass ceiling with 93 days leading the pack with its acceptance at virtually every prestigious international festival.
“The story of 93 Days centres on the sacrifices made by men and women who risked their lives to make sure the Ebola virus was contained, before it becomes an epidemic, when it was imported into Nigeria by a Liberian American diplomat. 93 Days is also dedicated to Ameyo Adadevoh, a Nigerian physician who played a key role in the containment of Ebola in Nigeria. The movie was directed by Steve Gukas and was shot in several parts of Nigeria.”
In a country where history and heroic feats are not well documented, 93 Days saves the day with proper and accurate representation of the sad event in Nigeria. 93 Days have been able to document a segment in the history of this nation for future reference so accurately. Shot at multiple locations in Nigeria, 93 Days movie has brought a new angle to filmmaking in Nigeria which is often dominated by comedy and is the easy way out for some filmmakers.
The movie has premiered in both African and international countries with loads of positive reviews from the audience.
One of the ways to know a good film is by the quality of festivals it has shown or will show. This is so because reputable international festivals have stringent rules and standard which the movie must meet. Notable festivals amongst others where 93 Days was shown and sold out include Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Chicago International Film Festival where it was the only Nigerian film to show there, and Los Angeles Pan African Film festival and the Johannesburg Rapid Lion Film Festival. It has just been selected to show at The prestigious American Film Institute.
This movie deserves all the accolades that it’s currently getting. One of such is the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards where it topped the list with 13 nominations.
Even though most of the categories are voting categories, the producers are counting on the goodwill they got from most Nigerians at the cinemas to work in their favour again this time.
A movie directed and co-produced by Steve Gukas. A production of three giant entertainment companies: Native FilmWorks, Michel Angelo Production and Bolanle Austen-Peters Production. It stars Bimbo Akintola, Bimbo Manuel, Charles Okafor, Danny Glover, Gideon Okeke, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, Somkhele Idhalama, Tim Reid, Sola Oyebade, Charles Etubiebi, and Seun Kentebe.
Beyond the accolades from both the media and the cinema audience who have seen the movie, the image of Nigeria as a slow respondent to epidemic disease outbreak has been re-branded.
In one of her interviews, Bolanle Austen-Peters, said:
“We did the Ebola movie because we wanted to add value. I didn’t want to do just any movie.”
“We told a story that needed to be told. I felt that if we did not tell that story, foreigners, as usual, could come and tell of the brave and courageous people who fought against the Ebola virus to save all of us. For me it was very important that the story was documented for posterity.”
On why they took a risk on shooting a movie on Ebola when they could have made a strictly entertaining movie and make more money, she said “It is very important that we document things. 93 Days (the title of the movie on Ebola) is of educational and historical significance. That is why I feel in some ways we have added a lot of value.”
The movie director and co-producer, Steve Gukas expressed the readiness of the crew for a great movie even before the shooting started.
“I knew going in, that this was a film that will not have any razzmatazz. That it would swim or sink on the strength of the performances and the look and feel. On that front, talent was key in the casting. I knew we had to get actors with depth and capacity to deliver powerful yet, very nuanced performances.”
“In terms of size and scope, ‘93 Days’ has been the most challenging. It needed more money plus the huge challenge in shooting in a metropolis like Lagos. You could hardly do a two-unit move in one day because of the size of the crew and traffic. Then you put on top of that the challenge of funding and the pressure of telling a story so close to our collective memory.”
The movie got endorsement from two respected personalities, Hollywood actor, Danny Glover and Nigeria’s most famous blogger, Linda Ikeji.
Danny said, “93 Days symbolises the spirit of the Nigerian people and the vibrancy of the industry. From the moment we had the script, we knew we had something special. Steve (Gukas) wanted me to do a cameo role. After reading the script, I realised I need to do more than that.”
Linda Ikeji said the movie is the only Nollywood movie she has gone to the cinema to see.
She said: “93 Days is the only Nigerian movie I have ever paid to go watch in Nigerian cinema and what a movie; amazing cinematography, storytelling and acting. It’s based on the story of the people who saved lives of many Nigerians by containing Ebola that came to their hospital-First Consultant Medical Hospital and the hero, Dr Ameyo Adadevoh who made sure the Ebola carrier, Liberian Patrick Sawyer didn’t leave the hospital and spread the disease. Amazing movie”.