Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, Children of Men) and Thandie Newton (Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness) star in this epic chronicle of family ties and war from celebrated Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele.
Half of a Yellow Sun
Celebrated playwright Biyi Bandele's directorial debut, an adaption of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Orange Prize-winning novel, chronicles the captivating journey of two women during the tumult of Nigeria's independence and ensuing Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-1970), a conflict prompted by the attempted secession of Nigeria's southeastern region and its formation into the short-lived Republic of Biafra. With the vast sweep of an epic, Half of a Yellow Sun tells the story of a generation through the prism of the sisters' thorny romantic destinies: Olanna (Thandie Newton) falls in love with Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor, also at the Festival in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave), a revolutionary who fathers a child by another woman, while Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) enters into a romance with a British writer (Joseph Mawle) who has come to Nigeria to teach.
Nigerian-born Bandele rose to prominence after his 1997 British stage version of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. His take on Half of a Yellow Sun, which streamlines and brings a charged cinematic energy to Adichie's sprawling text, is further evidence of his skill at literary adaptation. The novel's seamless translation to the screen is aided immeasurably by the film's cast: Ejiofor's bracingly charismatic turn as the intellectual militant; Onyeka Onwenu as his hardline mother; and Newton, whose subtle, knowing performance makes her the dramatic anchor in this tale of a country adrift in a sea of ethnic strife and male domination, yet longing for self-determination.
While its historical scope looks fifty years
into the past, Half of a Yellow Sun is a chilling,
lucid, and emotionally gripping drama
from contemporary Nigerian cinema, and
a film that honours the fearless intelligence
and strength of the country's women.