I could tell that most of the media men who attended the Wednesday press premiere of the film, ’76, were anxious. Our anxiety was based on the various stories written on the film before Wednesday. Some of us were sceptical about the quality and perhaps the predictable story lines common with most Nollywood films we had seen in the past.
We took our seats at one of the screening rooms at the Ozone Cinema, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos Nigeria. After some minutes, the film ’76 began in earnest. From the first scene showing before us, we knew we were in for a great treat. The movement of the camera, the cinematography and the gusto with which Ramsey Nouah and Rita Dominic acted their roles as Captain Joseph Dewa and Suzie respectively set the tone for the unfolding events in the film.
The location for the shooting couldn’t have been more apt. Filming took place mainly at Mokola Barracks, Ibadan, Oyo. The environment, lorries and cars used were just the right kind to depict the mid-1970s. the costumes and props were just too good and the characters carried them gracefully. The quality of picture was equally superb as the film was shot using ArriSuper 16 cameras. After over four months on set, Principal photography was concluded in July 2012.
“It’s a story told from a dual point of view,” says Izu Ojukwu, the director, “ – from the soldier’s patriotic perspective accused of being involved in the 1976 military coup and assassination of General Murtala Muhammed, and from that of the officer’s wife.”
According to him, the film pays homage to the strength of Soldiers’ wives. “As far as I’m concerned, the wives are the real soldier. They are the ones who suffer from whatever decisions their husbands make — whether on the battlefield or off it.”
“Our objective was to show audiences, amongst other things, what the wives of officers had to go through. Military coups are 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 and to do so through the eyes of officers’ wives. This is a filmmaker’s tiny contribution to raising their volume,” says Adonijah Owiriwa executive producer.
It took three years to plan the movie and it was filled with its unique challenges. While shooting the movie, the Nigerian Army delegation visited the cast and crew with assurances of their full support. For the first time in Nigerian history, a film shoot was allowed within the barracks. A first in cinematic history. Set during the era of military assassinations and political unrest in Nigeria, after production the movie enjoyed the full approval and endorsement of the Nigerian Army and the Murtala Muhammed family. It comes 40 years after the actual events, and follows seven years of work by the multi award winning Director Izu Ojukwu and the production teams of Adonis Production and Princewill’s Trust. Ojukwu said: “We wanted to show audiences who were not there, what it was like and the impact of the army on the people’s psyche. A lot of water has gone under the bridge over 40 years. This is a filmmaker’s small contribution to some of that healing.”
‘76 stars Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Rita Dominic, both Africa Movie Academy and Viewers Award for Best Actor In Leading Role in 2016 – Daniel K Daniel and Ibinabo Fiberesima and will hit the cinemas in Nigeria in November.