'Half of a Yellow Sun' explores UK colonial legacy in Nigeria

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'Half of a Yellow Sun' explores UK colonial legacy in Nigeria

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Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is hitting the big screen.

Starring British actors Thandie Newton and ’12-Years a Slave’‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, the movie is set in the 1960s and centres on a family as they try to survive Nigeria’s fight for independence.

“I wanted it filmed in Nigeria because that was important, not just for me personally – obviously, in an emotional way, I want my country to be portrayed, I want local talent to be used – but also because I feel it’s essential for the film itself because it’s about a period that is seminal, I think, in Nigerian history and I don’t think it would have worked if the filming had been done somewhere else,” says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie had her way, but shooting in Nigeria was a challenge.

‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is acclaimed Nigerian novelist and playwright Biyi Bandele’s debut feature film.

“Where we shot in the south east there wasn’t an infrastructure in place for film. There was a studio there but we had to bring in the crew. It was just pure logistics but we were really welcomed, from the homeless people on the streets to the state governor. It helped us. It shows in the film. It’s a big scale film made for a humble budget,” he says.

While ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ has been praised as one of just a handful of British films that engage with Britain’s post-imperial legacy in Nigeria, critics say it doesn’t do the book justice describing it as "a diverting but surface-level saga".

‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is out now in the UK, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand.

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