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“Half of A Yellow Sun” Movie Begins Shooting in Calabar

Earlier in the year, reports were rife about a screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s epic award-winning novel, “Half of A Yellow Sun”. Now it is confirmed that the cast and crew have arrived in Nigeria, and filming has started in Calabar.

This highly anticipated movie will crown Adichie’s stunning piece of literature. The novel, set during the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967 – 1970, was a best seller and winner of the coveted Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, among other awards. The novel tells the story of the effects of war on our lives, our relationships, and our dignity as seen through the eyes of three characters. Olanna, the lovely “half” of a pair of elite fraternal twins, and lover of Odenigbo, the revolutionary professor of Mathematics; Ugwu, the houseboy from an indigent family, who is probably the soul of the whole novel; and Richard, the “wobbly” expatriate who falls for Kainene, the other half of the twins.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a huge following in Nigeria, and fans of her novel are eagerly looking forward to the release of the film. There was, however, an outcry on the selection of the cast. The casting of Thandie Newton as Olanna, particularly, drew a lot of criticism, which even culminated in a petition, because some Nigerians felt she was not Igbo enough, or didn’t necessarily have “the physical characteristics or complexion of an Igbo person”. As the petitioner put it: “…this petition is not an attack on Thandie Newton or bi-racial people. It is simply a demand for accuracy and authenticity.”

That probably didn’t work out because Newton is already in the country, and will star as Olanna in the movie.

Here are a few details you should know:

  • The cast have arrived. Filming began on Friday, May 11, 2012.
  • The movie will be shot through June 21 on location in Nigeria and London.
  • It features international stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, and Joseph Mawle.
  • Some of the major cast and their roles include: Chiwetel Ejiofor as Odenigbo, Thandie Newton as Olanna, Anika Noni Rose as Kainene, Joseph Mawle as Richard, and John Boyega as Ugwu.
  • Nigeria’s Genevieve Nnaji and Zack Orji are also starring.
  • Genevieve Nnaji will play the role of Mrs Adebayo.
  • It is reported that Onyeka Onwenu will also star in the film.
  • The movie is directed by London-based Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele, who is also the author of “Burma Boy”, published in Nigeria by Farafina.
  • The producers are Andrea Calderwood and Gail Egan.
  • Mukhtar Bakare and Yewande Sadiku are executive Producers.
  • Original music for the film will be composed by Cobhams Asuquo and Keziah Jones.

Half of A Yellow sun, the movie, is described as an epic love story. Here is an excerpt from the official synopsis released by the producers:

Weaving together the lives of four people swept up in the turbulence of war. Olanna (Newton) and Kainene (Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family.

Returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests, and surprises herself when she falls in love with Richard (Mawle) an English writer.

Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements, and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire country and the world.

If you haven’t read the book, get a copy and do so now. It will be one of the most anticipated movies, and you won’t want to be left behind when the discussions begin: did this film adaptation do justice to the novel? Only those who know will understand.

The Half of A Yellow Sun movie is set for release in 2013.

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Lulu Oyigah trained as a geologist. She is passionate about nature, writing, arts and crafts, and interior design. She writes, and edits, for connectnigeria.com.

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