DIFF – Half of a Yellow Sun: Love under fire

2014-07-06 15:00

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She’s emerging as the queen of African fiction. She’s name-dropped by Beyoncé and scooping up awards. However, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not loved by everyone in power in Nigeria.

While South Africa gets to see the screen adaptation of her popular 2006 novel Half of a YellowSun at the Durban International Film Festival this month, it still hasn’t been shown in Adichie’s home country. She has spoken out fiercely against the paranoia of a government that believes the film’s focus on the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970 poses a national security threat today.

Enter the internet. This week the film made its online debut on Vimeo On Demand, thanks to a partnership between Vimeo and Monterey Media. It’s only available in the US for now, but is set to go global.

The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and multiple award-winner Thandie Newton. It centres on the story of two sisters experiencing life and love amid the Biafran War.

The New York Times says although finely acted, the film struggles to balance its need for melodrama with the need to capture the seismic event of the war. “The movie could easily have been a miniseries, but at just under two hours, it plays like a highlight reel,” wrote the paper.

In fact, the film’s failure to capture the devastation and crisis of the events around the main characters is a recurring criticism. Other reviewers have said the film lost some of the complexity of the book and instead reads as a theatrical love story. The Guardian said: “Unfortunately, the film is often stately and sluggish with some very daytime-soapy moments of emotional revelation. At other times, it looks more like a filmed theatrical piece.”

»Half of a YellowSun will show in Durban at Suncoast on July 18 at 6.15pm and at the Musgrave Centre on July 26 at 2.30pm

»Available for rent on Vimeo On Demand for R42 or you can purchase for R139


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