Set against a backdrop of tumultuous events in modern African history, 76 has commendable aspirations to make a dramatic impact much bigger than its limited budget allows. Despite its culturally specific setting, the centerpiece of the Toronto International Film Festival's City to City program of Nigerian cinema is primarily a universal mix of love story and political thriller. While director Izu Ojukwu does not entirely transcend the stilted, low-rent mannerisms associated with the prolific "Nollywood" film industry, his latest feature has potential to reach beyond local audiences and play internationally, especially in cities with large expat Nigerian communities. Following its world premiere in Toronto this week, 76 will screen at the London Film Festival next month.
In February 1976, a group of army officers launched a coup against Nigeria's new military leader, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed. In power for less than seven months following an earlier coup, Muhammed had inflamed tensions at home between different ethnic groups in the nation's north and south, and also made enemies abroad by endorsing the Soviet Russia-backed MPLA in Angola's civil war. The plotters succeeded in assassinating Muhammed and his aide in a roadside ambush, but their coup ultimately failed and the leaders were swiftly executed. Martyrdom cemented the 37-year-old general's folk-hero status. His face now adorns Ni ... Read Full Review