It is true that Nigeria’s history has been largely ignored in all our genres of creative art. Only recently has literature and film exploring the Nigerian civil war become popular. But of the epochs of Nigerian history, the decade preceding Nigeria’s independence from Great Britain is probably the least explored. Filmmaker Taiwo Egunjobi is taking a stab in the dark, trying to correct that.
His new short film Amope, is a satire that is built around a fictional woman of the same name, who has to choose between two fire brand lovers, both activists and patriots with very different ideals about how patriotism should be expressed. It is interesting that Egunjobi builds his male protagonists loosely around Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and ex President Olusegun Obasanjo, both from Ogun state, pitting their varying personalities against each other with Amope as a fictional tableau of sorts. The film is almost entirely carried by its screenplay, written by Isaac Ayodeji, who goes to town, intelligently compressing all the relevant information about the times into somewhat believable dialogue. We say somewhat because it feels weird, to see two grown men postulate in a dirty stairway. The dialogue builds and builds, giving an unvarnished narrative of what happens to both men decades into the future.
Some would argue that Amope is a metaphor for Nigeria, and in the end she chooses neither man, going to someone else.
Kunle Martini Akande and Emiolamide Fagbenle who produce and edit the film really drop the ball creatively. It is hard to overlook the poorly done overdub and the lighting which changes from scene to scene. There is also the problem of sets and costuming. The car that picks up Amope at the end of the film is Peugeot 504 which was first produced in 1968, and wasnt sold in Nigeria until the 70’s. Most of the attire as well from the wrong decade, as well as the afro movement which gained popularity in the late 70’s. These very fundamental problems made it hard to suspend belief and truly immerse in the film.
Egunjobi has real promise though, and it would be interesting to see what he does with a real script.