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La Femme Anjola: Mildred Okwo aims at surpassing own feat with Rita Dominic

Published by The Nation on Sat, 20 Feb 2021

By Gbenga BadaTwo years after completing work on La Femme Anjola, a highly anticipated Nollywood film, Mildred Okwo is aiming at surpassing her feat.Okwo, a film director and co-owner of The Audrey Silva Company, works with a sterling cast led by Rita Dominic and Nonso Bassey to tell a neo-noir crime thriller written by Tunde Babalola.The TeaserOn Friday, October 4, 2019, a one-minute-long teaser of La Femme Anjola was released to whet the appetite of a waiting audience. The teaser had Rita Dominic appearing in more than five scenes. In some of the scenes, she appears to be a cold-hearted lady of the night. In other scenes, shes enjoying a sizzling romance with a love interest, Nonso Benson. In another scene, Nonso Benson was playing to the sax to Dominics delight half-naked while she dances softly to the tunes.The ThemeLa Femme Anjola takes into consideration themes of heroism and villainy which is largely populated by the film noir genre of Hollywood in the 40s and 50s but with a Nigerian twist.The SynopsisLa Femme Anjola (The Woman Anjola) is a neo-noir crime thriller that features Rita Dominic, Chris Iheuwa, and Nonso Bassey as main characters. It tells the story of Anjola Kalu, played by Rita Dominic, the wife of night club owner Odera Kalu, played by Chris Iheuwa, who falls for a young stockbroker and part-time sax player, Dejare Johnson, played by Nonso Bassey, and turns his world upside down.The Official trailerThe opening shot of La Femme Anjolas official trailer released on February 8, 2021, is an appetiser that will draw any film enthusiast, critic, and fan to it because it drums curiosity. The first six seconds see an exotic car somersaulting several times followed by a gun battle with shots rendering the air. The voice of a narrator takes over while Rita Dominic, the lead character is seen running helter-skelter while Nonso Bassey seems to be dodging the bullets flying around. The trailer proceeds to give a glimpse of Nonso Basseys character as he was first seen in an office filled with stockbrokers before another scene portrays him as a saxophonist.While the audience takes a glance at Nigerias cuisine being prepared, the trailer quickly focuses on Basseys love interest played by Mumbi Maina as well as two main figuresEgo Boyo and Femi Jacobsportraying his parents.The trailer brightens up when Nonsos character approaches a basement club which had Rita Dominics character performing on a stage with bright lights. She performs one of Simis hit songs, Owambe. The music fades away as the audience is left to decipher what seemed like an intimate affair between Dominic and Basseys character with a steamy bathroom scene as the highlight.The following scenes tell an intense story of love, lies, greed, seduction, and the Nigerian dream.In the two minutes, forty-two seconds trailer, the scenes used were intricately put together such that the audience can neither tell the story nor figure out exactly anything.Speaking on his role as Dejare Johnson, Bassey said, I really wanted to be as honest and authentic as possible. So in addition to studying the script a thousand times over and taking copious notes, I did some research on stock trading to get into the mind of a power broker. Also on growing up in a middle class family in Yaba in the 80s and 90s to understand the context of Dejares social background. I took a few saxophone lessons because Dejare not only played the sax but it was a special part of his relationship with his father. So that bit wasnt just a technical addition, it was emotional and also psychological. The director, Mildred and I had many long late night calls discussing and building the character. We both were full of ideas, questions and opinions. I was nervous, excited and scared to death. But I was ready to do the work.On her part, Mumbi Maina, who plays the role of Thabisa, Basseys love interest, says the story had an edge that is uncommon in African projects. The script definitely was a page turner. Once I started reading I couldnt put it down. Thats always a good sign. It had an edge that Id not recently witnessed in an African project before. My reaction to the screenplay was instant shock and excitement. There were so many unexpected twists and turns to the storyline and the characters. I was immediately intrigued.Directed by Okwo, a critic and stickler for perfection, the highly anticipated film is poised to break her directorial works which include the award-winning rom-com, The Meeting.
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