Forty years after the assassination of the then Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, a film titled, ’76 inspired by that dark episode, has made history as the first Nigerian film to have its European premiere at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival in October.
The film, a love story embedded in treason, intrigue, patriotism and faith, is set in Ibadan, Oyo State, against the backdrop of transition and the struggle for political stability in 1976 and is inspired by real life events that led to the assassination of Gen. Murtala Muhammed.
‘76, the multi-million dollar landmark Nigerian cinematic production, already scheduled to make a global opening at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival later this month, has now also been exclusively chosen to have its European premiere at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival.
This is the first Nollywood film, the third largest film industry in the world to be chosen by both Toronto and London film festivals back-to-back and is a new milestone in African cinema.
The film’s, cast and crew have received a major boost with a high profile endorsement from the Head of State who succeeded the assassinated Murtala Muhammed at the time; General Olusegun Obasanjo, then later went on to become a two-term president.
He described ‘76 as “the best view of one of the worst times in our nation’s history. A must watch and an insight that was long overdue. Watching the attention to detail and hearing my own voice in February 1976, brought out both sweet and sour memories as Murtala Muhammed was not only my boss, he was my friend. I can not attest to what went on in the homes as we were focused on the field, but this film gives even I, an insight into that.”
Set during the era of military assassinations and political unrest in Nigeria, the movie also had the full approval and endorsement of the Nigerian Army and the Murtala Muhammed family, and was shot inside the confines of a military base, another first in Nigeria’s cinematic history. It comes 40 years after the actual events, and follows four years of work by the multi-award winning Director, Izu Ojukwu and the production teams of Adonis Production and Princewill’s Trust, a brainchild of Prince Tonye Princewill and Adonijah Owiriwa who are the film’s executive producers.
“Our objective was to show audiences, amongst other things, what the wives of officers had to go through. Military coups were 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 through the eyes of officers’ wives. This is a filmmaker’s small contribution to raising their volume.” the Executive Producer Adonijah Owiriwa stated.
The film stars renowned and respected Nollywood megastars Rita Dominic, Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Ibinabo Fiberesinma, Memry Savanhu, Daniel K Daniel (African best actor 2016), Debo Oguns and Adams Shuaibu and a host of other rising stars. At the centre of this very gripping romantic thriller is the charismatic, ‘Captain Joseph Dewa’, played by Ramsey Nouah who is indicted by the military for his alleged role in the coup.
The film will have its red carpet London premiere on October 15 and would be attended by all the key cast, crew and special guests. It will then have its African premiere in Lagos on November 11 before being released nationwide in cinemas from November 25.