I remember the press conference like it was yesterday.
It was at Terra Kulture and the producers had an announcement.
They were going to make a film about Ebola & Dr. Adadevoh and Bimbo Akintola was going to play the late doctor who prevented the late Patrick Sawyer from leaving the hospital after it was discovered he had the virus.
Hollywood actors Danny Glover and Tim Reid were also going to star in the film.
Plus Bolanle Austen-Peters was producing. I have immense respect for all she does and with her name on this project, I was optimistic it was going to be on point.
Shortly after, this came out.
The producers responded to this, adding that they got the necessary permission to make the film and that the film is not the biopic of Dr. Adadevoh.
After that, the trailer came out.
I am sorry but the trailer did nothing for me. I expected emotion and a longing to want to see the finish product but I got nothing. Still, I knew I wanted to watch it because the film was for a great cause and the world needed to see it.
A film with this budget and of this magnitude has to come with hype. From when it screened at the US Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC to when it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival as the part of the City to City lineup. Producers even circulated a press release that the premiere at TIFF was sold out and that the reviews were great. Seemed like a must watch.
So on Tuesday the 13th, I joined thousands of Nigerians that went to House on the Rock to watch the movie. After a rendition of the Nigerian and American anthem, Paul Adefarasin raved on and on about how he cried through the movie and how the film is one of the finest works out of Nollywood. The other producers said the same thing emphasising the importance of collaboration and how important it is for our story to be told.
And then I watched the film.
I really wanted to love this film like everyone claims they do. Unfortunately, I don’t. It is not that the film is not well shot. In fact, I think the cinematography is the highlight of the film and I think the director did a fine job and his skills as a director is without question but the film was flat. I mean I kept wondering what part of the film Mr. Adefarasin shed his tears.
The screenplay did nothing for me. I mean a lot of the information in the film is what we already knew by watching the news. There are questions I really wanted answers to. Did Dr. Adadevoh really hold Patrick Sawyer down when he insisted on leaving the hospital? What was the diplomatic drama that was going on in the corridors of power when a Nigerian hospital held a Liberian against his will? How did her family handle the crisis? How did the other families grieve when their loved ones got infected? How did Nigerians react to the Ebola news? How did the government manage to monitor everyone who had been in contact with the infected persons? What about the guy that fled quarantine? How did his actions affect the entire monitoring process?
These are key elements that was left out from the story. The screenplay doesn’t feel like it was well researched and it left me with more questions plus the ones that were unanswered. Most of the characters were under developed. The only one that was well rounded was Dr. Ada Igonoh played by the talented Somkele Idhalama. Alastair Mackenzie’s character Dr. David Brett-Majors also shines in this film and (if we have to be totally honest) is the real hero of the film.
Charles Okafor and Franca Brown also are in this film. Let me add here that these guys are icons in the Nigerian film industry. Sadly, their talents were not even used. Franca Brown did not even say a word in the entire film. Like she said NOTHING! What was the point of casting her if she wasn’t even going to utter one word? Plus there is Bankole Cardoso played by Charles Etubiebi. Now, I know Bankole was the CEO of Easy Taxi and I even remember his interview on TVC’s On the Street so even though I don’t know him personally, I know that the way he was depicted in the film is less than accurate.
The producers have stated that the film shows the response of the Federal and State government to the Ebola crisis. Well, going by the film they did not do much. I mean even in the trailer you hear Tina Mba’s character say “Everything is politics in Nigeria.” There is a lot that the Lagos State government did to curb the spread in the state. In fact, they were holding daily press conferences and almost immediately after Sawyer’s arrival the government was actively working with the CDC and WHO. If I was a viewer who had no idea about the Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria, it will look like the government was sluggish in their response to the outbreak.
I know the producers have maintained that the film is not the biopic of Dr. Adadevoh but let us be real, a lot of us wanted to see the film because of her. We wanted to understand how far she went in curbing the spread of the virus. Sadly I feel the film did not do her any justice. She is portrayed as woman who is professional at her job and takes it seriously. As regards heroism, I did not see that. She was just a doctor doing her job! I mean she barely had any contact with Patrick Sawyer.
Even as I write this I still want to root for this film. I want someone to tell me that I am not making any sense and that the film was a great one. I want someone to show me the areas the film evoked emotions and empathy not just for the survivors but for the victims. I was supposed to write this review since Wednesday but I haven’t been able to. This film is just not great. It is good as a Made for TV movie or an Africa Magic Original Film but as a cinematic release that is supposed to show us at our finest hour, this film doesn’t do us any justice.
93 Days simply falls short!