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The trailer of TWP shown ahead of the premiere in TIFF


Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto International Film Festival

The Wedding Party (TWP), created quite the buzz, when it was released a few weeks ahead of its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The trailer appeared to have all the makings of a hit film; a talented director, an all-star cast and a media mogul as producer. However, it wasn’t exactly sold. My reservations were due in part to the films’ genre of comedy, TWP was Kemi Adetiba’s feature-length debut and she hadn’t done much.

I saw TWP at its second screening, where I was in the audience, a pretty diverse theatre hall. I found the multi-cultural draw of the film fascinating, and this has partly influenced this review. It was in the second act of the movie, while I was laughing out loud to a scene, along with nearly everyone else in the theatre that my reservations disappeared, giving way to a new confidence in a unique Nigerian-comedic expression that was beautifully executed.

TWP takes the sensitive and rather important subject of (the Nigerian) marriage and turns it into a humor-filled adventure by driving the narrative with melodramatic confrontations entrenched in visual comedy. It presents a multi-layered conflict, which helps the plot remain tight, and creates a lot more opportunity for the story to be dynamic.

The conflict is initially observed within the family of the Onwuka’s (Ireti Doyle and Richard Mofe Damijo). As the story progresses, the conflict becomes more of an external battle between the Onwuka’s and the Cokers (Atunyota Akpobome and Sola Sobowale); and their children, Dozie (Banky W) and Dunni (Adesua Etomi) are caught in the unfolding crossfire. A closer look, however, reveals that each character is confronting a personal battle. At its core, the story reflects the humanity of the characters and their individual struggle to shed their past with the view of uncovering a better future.

Thankfully, the movie is a departure from the self-deprecating comedy that one has come to associate with the Nigerian film industry. It relies on visual comedy and a lot of fairly big and dramatic scenes. TWP is a visually appealing picture, and this is due in large part to the traditional attires that are on display from the Yoruba and Igbo. The contrast of beautiful colours against scores of gorgeous coral neck and wrist beads, head gear, blouses and wrappers was refreshing. It lifted the film to a level that captured the essence of African cinema within the framework of a movie that explores the Nigerian version of a universal tradition called marriage.

The City to City initiative that saw the spotlight shine brightly on Lagos, Nigeria also saw the screening of seven other great Nigerian films at the 2016 TIFF. A value cannot be put on the visibility this gives the Nigeria film industry and her actors. What TWP has done is add its voice to the creation of a new Nigerian-African narrative. African cinema can be light, funny, intelligent and witty.

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Kemi AdetibaTIFF
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