‘Across The Niger’ – High Expectations
Out of the stable of Kingsley Ogoro Productions comes yet another pace-setting thoroughbred – 'Across The Niger'. It is a testimony to the vision and dedication of 'The Man Himself'- that man again - Kingsley Ogoro, that he has typically refused to be harassed into releasing a film that even before completion, was under intense pressure to be rushed onto the market.
Three years in the making, 'Across The Niger' is the sequel to the acclaimed 'Battle of Love' released in 2001. Yet again, Nollywood has shown that it plans to be taken seriously in the world of film, and Kingsley Ogoro is at the forefront of this crusade. 'Across The Niger' is his latest weapon.
Skillfully directed by the up and coming and extremely talented Izu Ojukwu, 'Across The Niger' hosts an array of talented stars including Segun Arinze, Peter Edochie, Ramsey Noah, 'Aki', Chiwetalu Agu and the excellent Ireti Doyle, all in supporting roles.
'Across The Niger' is a bold yet sensitive foray into the moral dilemmas of the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970. It is a love story. It is the story of Nigeria, indeed Africa - its past, its present and its future.
Written by the equally excellent Kabat Esosa, 'Across The Niger' is the story of lead character 'Dubem' (Kanayo O. Kanayo), a major in the Nigerian army prior to the outbreak of civil war in 1967. Of eastern Nigerian (Igbo) origins, he is however stationed in the Hausa-Fulani northern region of Nigeria. He has just married his beloved 'Habiba' (Rekia Atta), a local girl from the surrounding villages when inter-ethnic strife breaks out and non-indigenes are forced to flee to the safety of their homelands.
It is here that 'Across The Niger' begins to weave it's endearing story of enduring love, courage and hope.As anarchy descends all around them, their love for each other has suddenly become a forbidden one. Hunted on all sides, they too are forced to flee and travel hundreds of miles in search of safety in Dubem's homeland of the east. Making their way through hostile enemy territory, they can rely on nothing else but their inner strengths, their love…and a few friends along the way.
But it is soon to turn out that 'home' is no longer what it used to be….
This is the story of two people caught up in the hate. This is the story of two people caught up in one undying love. A love across enemy lines.
A love Across The Niger…
'Across The Niger' is Nollywood's most ambitious venture yet. Shot entirely on location in Nigeria against the backdrop of the 1967-70 Nigerian civil war, and using archived footage from that period, 'Across The Niger' takes Nigerian film making to new heights. Entirely funded by private individuals, technically as sound as any digitally recorded film to be found anywhere in the world, and put together by some of the best and brightest young Nigerians in the industry, it is a testimony to the true Nigerian spirit. Some of the most authentic and gripping battlefield and underwater scenes ever seen in Nollywood make 'Across The Niger' something very special. It encompasses so many things that represent the concept of who and what the Nigerian is. And in Kingsley Ogoro, Nigeria has a true gem.
This is indeed a piece of work of which to be extremely proud, and can only make the world wonder at how Nollywood is able to do what it does in the circumstances in which it exists.
'Across The Niger' is scheduled for initial cinematic release across selected cinema houses in Nigeria* and London* in December 2004. This is to be followed by similar releases in Europe and the United States soon after. DVD, VCD and VCR unit releases are not scheduled until 2005, hopefully following these successful cinema runs.
In more ways than one, the story of 'Across The Niger' is one that speaks to all people everywhere, but particularly to the people of Africa - a continent that even today, is being ripped apart by ethnic strife, social betrayal and unfulfilled dreams.
To put this all in context, this film is a pathfinder that sets the standards.
The pretenders will surely try to follow.
Kola Munis was joint winner of the 'Best Screenplay' Award ('The Return' directed by Kingsley Ogoro) at the Nigerian Reel Movie Awards, Lagos, February 2004. He is also the producer of 'Osuofia In London'.