On Sept. 11, the movie “76” will have its World Premiere Screening at the prestigious Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto with the key cast in attendance.
It is the first all-Nigerian, made in Nigeria movie. Directed by Award Winner, Izu Ojukwu and starring Award Winning Actress Rita Dominic. ‘76’ is inspired by True Events.
Six years after the civil war, a young officer from the Middle Belt becomes entangled in a romantic relationship with a beautiful 0-level student from the Southern part of Nigeria. Their budding romance is almost destroyed by endless military postings. Now very pregnant, her walls begin to crumble when the news of her husband’s involvement in a botched coup attempt makes the headlines.
‘76’ celebrates and demonstrates the character and loyalty of a true African woman by examining the familiar invisible pain of a soldier’s wife. It highlights the enduring Nigerian cultural values of courage, resilience, patience, loyalty, faith and family. It is visually pure, emotionally engaging and amorously therapeutic.
With the assistance of her publisher, I was very fortunate to speak with Rita Dominic via skype at her home in Lagos State, Nigeria.
“In preparation for the role, how much about the events of 1976 were you aware of?”
“We were taught about the events in school. It is a familiar story, but it wasn’t until I received the script that I began to immerse myself into the details of the story and the character. I had received the script two years prior to filming. Within that time, there were four more drafts. Once we arrived in camp, we had two months of rehearsal and four months of filming. I met with families that lived through the experience and lived in the barracks with them to better understand the emotional impact of having a husband deployed and not knowing if he’s ever coming back. I wanted to be able to portray her as honest and believable as possible. After researching the story, we discovered that they also spoke with a different dialect. It was necessary to practice and learn it for the continuity of that era.”
She found the role very emotionally daunting. After a private screening of the film in Lagos, there were very positive reviews of the film.
“The audience loved it.”
The film was shot in 2012, but took much longer to acquire BBC footage from that time, given that it is a period piece. It was her third time working with the director and adds that she enjoys working with him because of his technique and ability to collaborate with the actors in drawing out their best performance.
This is Rita Dominic’s first time coming to Canada. She tells me she is looking forward to the cooler weather.
In addition to being an award winning actress, Rita is also a producer, philanthropist and co-owner of The Audrey Silva Company. The production company had early success in their first film, The Meeting. In it, Rita plays an ageing disillusioned and corrupt civil servant. It has personally garnered her over 17 nominations and 8 awards.
She encourages and provides training and scholarships for young girls in the creative arts to enable them to develop a well-grounded entrepreneurial career.
Rita has aspirations to pursue directing as soon as next year. Her company is presently producing a TV series, The Bank. Rita is always hoping for a script to come along that challenges her. She says it’s a blessing when it happens. She tells me that leaving herself vulnerable in a role is key to a great performance. A constant professional and dedication to her craft gives Rita the satisfaction necessary to empower her best performances.
She is awaiting word on a potential comedy being filmed in London, England. I wish her well and look forward to watching her on the big screen.