An excerpt from a chat with the producers of the film adaptation of Half Of A Yellow Sun that I thought worth sharing.
First, just to clarify one important item that I’ve seen come up repeatedly. The belief amongst many is that this is a Hollywood production; and as we’ve said more than once, it’s actually NOT a Hollywood production. So when I read comments around the blogosphere denouncing Hollywood for the casting of the project, or for any other of the film’s perceived faults, I want to jump in and say that it’s a UK/Nollywood (Nigerian) production. There’s no Hollywood studio or even production company backing this project. If the producers had waited for a Hollywood studio to adapt the novel to film, it would likely never have happened!
As you can see, this, is part, explains why its cast is primarily British and Nigerian.
But one thing I didn’t realize, and which I never bothered to look up was, who exactly the film’s primary producer is (or primary producers are): Scottish producer Andrea Calderwood (The Last King Of Scotland and several other acclaimed projects, both for TV and film in the UK, going back to the 1990s), and Gail Egan of the UK Film Council (she produced films like The Constant Gardner and Vera Drake).
By all accounts, all well-made films, even though I took issue with how some of the content of some of these films was presented. But that’s another post, and issues we’ve tackled previously.
Returning to the aforementioned interview with the producers given to The Guardian (Nigeria), when asked whether they’d classify the film as a Hollywood or Nollywood project, their reply was:
It is neither of it. Rather it is an international co-production that mainstreams international and home-based stars. I have produced a number of films in different parts of Africa. So, I can tell you that this one’s a different type altogether because it has international stars from UK; the writer and the Director, B. Bandele, are Nigerians and that makes it interesting. This one is all about Nigerians participating in telling their own story in a unique perspective.
Of course, the fact that Thandie Newton is not Nigerian (her mother is from Zimbabwe, her father British) has already been debated to death. It even inspired a petition that requested the role Newton was cast to play be recast. So I’m sure some will take issue with the producer’s comment in the above paragraph about this being the case of Nigerians telling their own story in a unique POV. And Anika Noni Rose isn’t of Nigerian descent either.
However, for those folks concerned, I’d mention that the producers also state that the production is about 70% Nigerian (in front of and behind the camera), and in terms of casting, the majority of the actors cast are indeed Nigerian, with the crew being about 50/50 (British and Nigerian).
And lastly, the budget for the film is revealed to be $8 million, with the producers calling it the most expensive movie in Nigeria’s film history.
You can read the rest of the interview HERE.
As announced earlier today, the film adaptation will make its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It is still without distribution – something that I expect will change after it debuts.