Dir.: Izu Ojukwu
Showcase: London Film Festival
Love, ethnic tension, family strife and political intrigue collide in this thoughtful telling of the 1976 coup attempt that saw the then Nigerian military Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, assassinated.
Set in a military base, the relationship between a military officer and his heavily-pregnant partner (played by Nollywood stalwarts Ramsey Nouah and Rita Dominic), is increasingly tested first by relatives opposed to their relationship on the basis of their ethnicity and then by Captain Joseph Dewa’s implication in the coup.
76 is a cinematic narration of a historical event with acute attention to detail that provides a rare glimpse into the lives of the families of soldiers and the consequences they face as a result of the actions of their husbands. The story is made all too real by the fact that it is based on a true story and its use of archive footage from that era.
Though the cinematography is almost perfect, the use of the soundtrack is not always wisely exercised and at times proves to be a distraction rather than complementary. However, the use of period Nigerian and American music must be complemented as it adds to the authenticity of the film. Period costume is also used effectively, sometimes with comic effect, and the predominant hairstyle of the time, the Afro, is ever present.
76 cannot be discussed without the journey its makers took to bring it to screen being brought up. It took 7 years from conception to release including several years of pre-production, a 6 month shoot and 4 years of post-production and it required military approval before it could even be made. Unprecedented for a Nigerian film, the crew received support from the military whist making the film including being given access to the military base where the film was shot.
The hard work paid off as it was one of 8 Nigerian films that were shown at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival as part of the festival’s City to City programme that usually showcases a handful of films from a particular city each year. Past cities chosen have included London, Mumbai and Seoul. In October 2016, 76 had its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.
76 Movie Trailer
The director and Nollywood veteran, Izu Ojukwu, has given us in 76, a story that is close to his heart. In one interview he gave in Toronto, he stated that the main message of the film was ‘honour and integrity’ and these virtues are ones that the main characters embody, even if forced too.
76 is definitely worth watching, if not for its account of the coup attempt that cost the then Head of State his life or to gain an insight into the ethnic tensions that persisted 6 years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, then for its moving portrayal of struggle and courage in the face of adversity.