Emelonye Drops Trailer  for ‘Portrait of IBB’

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Prolific movie maker, Obi Emelonye drops intense trailer for his long awaited movie, “IBB: Portrait of a General”. Hopefully it wouldn’t be much longer this time before it hits the cinemas, writes

Ferdinand Ekechukwu

After a long wait, prolific filmmaker  Obi Emelonye recently released the official trailer for his most anticipated Nollywood movie, “Badamasi: Portrait of a General”, and movie buffs have been talking about the project. The IBB biopic takes a look into the life of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. The film is set to detail the history of Badamasi’s rule as President of Nigeria which began on August 27, 1985, after he toppled Muhammadu Buhari.

The film aims to tell IBB’s story and reflect on how his rule altered history. Despite being ‘threatened’ not to release the film by political powers that be, which also led to a forced postponement of its cinema release originally slated for 29th November, it appears Emelonye has overcome whatever hurdles thrown at him by making the two minutes 30 seconds trailer public.

The trailer appears as intense as the period the movie captured with edgy scenes. With the trailer released, it appears a new date for the movie is in the offing. However, the multiple award-winning director/producer told THISDAY: “None yet; suspended everything until I feel safe. But we are hoping to ramp up support to drown out the dark figures.” Hopefully it wouldn’t be much longer this time before it hits the cinemas. According to the movie synopsis, a powerful Army General attempts to guide Nigeria through a viciously strained era in this first of its kind authorised biopic.

Born in a small village in Northern Nigeria called Wushishi, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida or IBB as he is fondly called, loses both of his parents by the age of 14. It is his charm and intelligence that would propel him from that inauspicious beginning to the pinnacle of military politics in Africa’s most populous country. But to fulfill his destiny, Badamasi has to survive a brutal civil war, spearhead several successful military coups, escape a few ferocious plots on his own life and confront his deepest fears.

But when fate pitches the General against the will of million tough Nigerians, something has to give. Badamasi won several battles to rule Nigeria for 8 years. However, with the country about to implode, he may have to lose the fight to bring her back from the brink.  Although, mostly known for remarkable cinematic works, including Last Flight to Abuja (2012), The Mirror Boy (2011), and Onye Ozi (2013), Emelonye’s recent films have had commercial successes, as well as critical acclaim.

Debonair and dedicated to a mission, Emelonye represents a new hue on the canvas of Nigerian moviemakers. Known for his deep, enthralling and refreshing storylines so are his techniques and focus. Emelonye’s making as a moviemaker is enchanting as the movies he has worked on over the years. Between 2011 and 2015, Emelonye enjoyed an incredibly tremendous success which saw him feature on CNN as the Future  of  Nollywood in a series of interviews, and African Voices programme.

Lately, he was on Arise News International Network Morning Show discussing the movie which had taken seven years. Though the last couple of years have seen his name off the records of awards categories in Nigeria, Emelonye had earlier mentioned that in an industry with thousands of practitioners striving to improve their craft, it was unlikely that other practitioners sit quietly and watch only a few others cart away all the honours. He had acknowledged that the industry had become more competitive such that one needed to take a deep breath before hitting the scene.

Such breath it would seem Emelonye  had taken just so to renew his vigour working on the biopic about IBB the man that ruled Nigeria for eight years between 1985 and 1993. He believes that with what he has done in the last few years in the industry, a project of that magnitude and importance was never beyond him. He had started writing the script based on information available in the public domain. But needed to have a personal perspective from the man himself about his own life and significantly, about his time in office.

Quite challenging as the General maintained a regal silence since leaving office. But Emelonye managed to get through to him after persistent inquiries and was surprised that, for the first time since leaving office, ‘Maradona’ was willing to get into a detailed conversation about what happened in those many dramatic episodes in his public life involving Africa’s most populous black nation. Those meetings saw Emelonye shuttling between London and Lagos to Minna consistently.

What he considers first in any project is the nature of the story. Reason he chose IBB from all of the previous Nigerian rulers. IBB is perceived the most controversial Nigerian leader and was allegedly involved in a civil war, several coups, for and against, and topped it up with an intriguing and fascinating political drama of June 12.

Another factor Emelonye considers, aside from dramatic stories is how the story would blend with his production style which is often visually enthralling. Projects like Badamasi and the Last Flight to Abuja, for instance, tick the boxes amply for him in this regard and such would get his interest any day.

Obi Emelonye, a former professional footballer graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with BA (Hons) Theatre Arts degree (1990). He went on to study for an LLB Law degree from the University of Wolverhampton (1998). He completed a post-graduate degree in Legal Practice from London Metropolitan University (2002) and practised Law for a few years before focusing on his first love: film.