As I settle down to write this, I am bursting with excitement, not because of the movie but because i have so much to say about my experience (the good and the ugly) at the official premiere of the 93 Days Movie. Before I get into my  review, I must alert all you extra perceptive ones reading this that there might be some spoilers as you read this. This piece also includes a report of what went down at the Premiere, from Ebola jokes on the red carpet to a near audience riot so grab that cup of coffee or drink and enjoy your read.

The Official Premiere

The official Premiere of 93 Days was attended by way more than 8000 people at the Rock Cathedral in Lekki owned by the House on the Rock Church. The 6pm scheduled time turned out to be the start time for the red carpet as is the tradition with most Nigerian events, I was particularly impressed with the level of external organization and security at this event, believe me with what i was personally subjected to as a guest it would have been practically impossible to smuggle a nail into that venue. The Security also came in layers and all attendees were directed to a particular entrance while other entrances were either cordoned off or restricted to VIPs.

After passing security checks I headed  into the Cathedral to get settled in and to my surprise despite coming in early the hall was packed and sitting was only allowed on the 1st and 2nd galleries as the entire ground floor sitting was reserved for dignitaries and special guests of the organizers, this didn’t make any sense to me at initially when i got there thinking we were all guests but alas when the Heads of the U.S and German Embassies walked in and much later other dignitaries like Bishop Mike Okonkwo (General overseer of TREM), Mr. Rotimi Amaechi (Nigeria’s Minister of Transport), Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Member of the Nigerian National Assembly and representatives of the Lagos State Government, it became clear why such reservations had to be made- There is indeed hierarchy even in heaven 🙂

It must have been quite a tedious day for the technical personnel behind the scenes  because while guests granted interviews on the red carpet, Producers of the movie led by the event Chief Host Pastor Paul Adefarasin simultaneously held a PRESS conference at another location within the facility which was also beamed to the audience in the cathedral intermittently with the visuals from red carpet celebrities like Sammy Okposo and  MC Abbey, Who managed to throw in an Ebola joke about how some were practically cooking with Sanitizers during the outbreak throwing the viewing audience into uncontrollable laughter.

Eventually the program properly kicked off a few minutes after 7pm, there were several things i found particualr uncomfortable one of which was the singing of the United States National anthem in a gathering of more than 8000 NIgerians

(while i understand the need for that considering the production and event was supported by the U.S Embassy  there may have also been a need to honor the Diplomatic Corp. I think it was unnecessary, we could as well have sang the German National anthem while we were at it).

There were  addresses from Pastor Paul Adefarasin, and the producers of the Movie (Steve Gukas, Bolanle Austen-Peters, and Otunba Dotun Olakunrin), Ambassador Martin Brennan Chargé dAffaires ad interim, U.S. Mission Nigeria and more. I felt like people basically came to watch the movie, while it was insightful to hear about the pain behind the production of the movie, we didn’t  necessarily have to be bludgeoned with the constant detail of how dangerous we came to extinction.. We all lived through the Ebola experience first hand!! which leads me to my earlier point on the near riot that almost took place.

Considering that most people in the audience had to be at work the following day after the long Sallah holidays, all through the initial formalities and speeches there was  growing impatience in the audience manifesting as groans and side comments for a while. The audience must have tried to be as polite as possible after-all they didn’t pay a dime to see the  movie. About past 8pm they had had enough of formalities after a loud revolt, the hosts managed to stylishly sneak in a remark from the representative of the Lagos State Governor who wasted no time in expressing his anxiety to see the movie and kindly walked off the stage -then crunch time!

I must say that because the movie was such a good one it covered for the pain of sitting through all the formalities. And i would recommend this one as a must watch it opens this Friday the 16th of September at the Cinemas.

Screenplay

While i appreciate the challenges the producers must have faced in making this movie, making a movie about Ebola had in the idea itself a ready made recipe for a box office hit considering the wide spread fear we all had to live with for the 93days of its sojourn in Nigeria- that’s like the soccer equivalent of leading the Barcelona FC in its present constitution against Eyimba FC (sorry had to slip that one in 🙂 ). The Screenplay was well executed for TV and would compete globally as we have already seen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Steve Gukas, The Director referred to a comparism made by a panelist at TIFF to the star studded Hollywood movie ‘Contagion’ where it was said that ’93 Days’ was a better movie than the Contagion. Also in my Opinion Alastair Mackenzie playing Dr. David Brett-Majors (the Ebola expert from the W.H.O) had some of my favorite and most inspiring lines in the movie. Two of my favorite quotes from his dialogue include:

“Pick a bed and start fighting, the sooner you start the sooner you would win” this he said to Dr. Ada Igonoh after she was quarantined.

“It is not what’s in this ward that matters, but whats inside you” – His response to Dr. Ada’s complaint about the state of the hospital ward.

There were many other epic one liners sprinkled throughout  the movie.

Cinematography

From wide angle shots to a clever use of aerial shots, Yinka Edward the -DOP and Steve Gukas out did themselves on this production capturing the actual beautiful chaos of the city of Lagos from the good to the near ugly. 93 Days was so Beautifully rendered it made you proud to be Nigerian and it effectively showed what we as Nigerians can achieve when we unite to solve a common problem if we can put aside our political, religious and tribal biases.

Casting

Save for one or two actors, the casting was phenomenal. Bimbo Akintola brought home the role of Dr. Adadevoh Ameyor, Charles Etubiebi Oke also did great in playing Bankole Cardoso- Dr. Adadevoh’s son to whom he bore a striking resemblance to. Keppy Epkeyong Bassey effectively portrayed Patrick Sawyerr (The Ebola Importer) as perceived by most Nigerians, but we may never know considering at the time most Nigerians were too angry with Mr Sawyerr to be bothered about his personality. Seun Kentebe could have been better playing Godwin Igonoh. Somkele Idhalama was also quite impressive. Overall the casting crew did a phenomenal job compared to what obtains in typical ‘old Nollywood’

Make up

Going by the pictures emanating from Liberia and Sierra Leone the visuals in the 93 Days movie seemed more like a diarrhea epidemic than an Ebola pandemic thanks to the Makeup from Imoteda and Thelma Ozzy Smith. While it wasnt totally bad there should have been more facial and bodily sours and boils for the advance stage patients admitted. There is room for growth here and i am aware that SFx makeup is a whole different science even in Hollywood.

Fluffs

Attention to details is one thing that makes production budgets go through the roof. Kunle Afolayan another thriving and consistent Movie Director  knows this all too well. It is this simple fact that makes a mockery of spectacular productions and i could only pick out two of such fluffs in this movie:

  1. There was an in-car scene where the radio announcement in the background referred to the Shiite/Army clash that occurred in Zaria earlier in 2016, the Ebola outbreak happened to have been 2 whole years before that clash and it had no business being in the movie.
  2. I am not totally certain about this, but i would have sworn i saw an iPhone SE in two of the scenes, that product was also released this year.

Overall this movie is a must watch, and i recommend this movie as an instructional material on Sacrifice, Patriotism and leadership.

This movie has a healthy blend of wittiness thanks to the antic of Jatto played by Adebola Williams and that Cab driver, and drama and tragedy. that is a difficult blend to manage and these guys have done a spectacular job. You can watch the Trailer here. The movie comes to cinemas this Friday 16th of September, 2016.