NOLLYWOOD REBRANDS NIGERIA WITH LAVIVA
Nigeria's strides in the movie industry tok a leap recently with the premiere of the epic film on the Liberian war, Laviva.
The well-attended premiere, which took place in the huge belly of the Expo Centre of Eko Hotel, Lagos, attracted the cream of the movie industry.
Shot on location in Nigeria, the film is based on the experiences of a detachment of Nigerian soldiers deployed in the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) during the Liberian civil war. Laviva centres on the local people's initial hostile perception of ECOMOG's mission in Liberia as that of an invading force.
The film features the late JT Tom West, who died last year, as the chief of the ECOMOG detachment; Francis Duru as a garrulous ECOMOG soldier; and Hank Anuku as a rebel. Joy Egbunu stars as Laviva. She loses her father to the war and openly demonstrates hostility towards the ECOMOG soldiers, in spite of admonition from her mother and other members of the community who feel it is dangerous to do so.
Laviva is also obsessed with the desire to bring peace to her country and along the line falls in love with the ECOMOG chief, JT Tom West. She is the rallying point for peace and stability among her peers and people at a time when many had lost their nerves to the weariness of war.
Produced by AMAA 2007 Best Director, Izu Ojukwu, the movie showcases the abundant talent in Nollywood, given the richness of its shooting, directing, costumes, editing and coordination. Shot three years ago, Laviva captures the tortuous experiences, intrigues and romance that played itself out when Nigerian troops led ECOMOG to salvage a country torn by civil war. It is a story of how Nigerian soldiers, in the midst of hate and fire, planted peace and hope.
There is the flip side to the film in which the ECOMOG soldiers returned home with Liberian wives and children, even as many of their colleagues died in the war.
The premiere was dedicated to the memory of the late JT Tom West because Laviva was one of the last sets of films he acted in before his sudden death.
The premiere was lit up by the soulful performance of evergreen singer, Miriam Makeba (Mama Africa), who got guests on their feet doing her hit song, Pata Pata