Private screening of Ebola film jolts fading memory
When 93 Days, a film directed by Steve Gukas on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), premieres on September 16, before it finally opens to cinema-going audiences across the country and the world, what many will ask, as some in the audience did last Thursday after being walked through the harrowing, secluded chambers of affected staff of First Consultant Hospital, would be, ‘did that really happen? How did the country survive it? What lessons have been learned? What preparations are there for such future emergency?’
These questions become more urgent for a country and people that forget so easily, perennially plagued by collective amnesia.
Indeed, a foreboding chill ran through the spines of the audience at Genesis Cinema hall, Palm Shopping Mall, Lekki, Lagos, where the screening took place. Just two years ago, and it seems ages ago when it happened in 2014, when Ebola plague ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and came to Nigeria through the American-Liberian, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, and the country stood in baited breath and waited for the worst. But some individuals braved the odds and stood firm and battled it to a bitter end.
Some inevitably lost their lives, as necessary sacrifices for the rest of society to live through it.
But having survived, do people remember? Two years and the country would seem to have forgotten except the families that were directly affected, whose loved ones perished and those fortunate to have scaled through and emerged from the chamber of horror and death, scared but alive.
Today, Gukas and his production crew stand as the gatekeepers of memory of that harrowing experience. It is the primary duty of the arts and its practitioners to never forget even when the rest of humanity has forgotten, to remind of the happy and not so happy past and harness it for future use. The film’s catchphrase on the leaflet is ‘Each day could be the beginning of man’s nightmare,’ and certain words also leap to mind, ‘fear, heroes, sacrifice, life, love’ – words that congregate in one moment of sheer helplessness in the face of a rampaging disease.
93 Days is a debt of gratitude the nation and the world pay certain individuals who gave their all, their lives, so others could survive. Dr. Stella Adadevoh (played by Bimbo Akintola) stands out in the honour’s roll call, as she battles an unknown disease, alongside her younger colleagues, all caught in the web of a mysterious disease. Also, a certain American and an Egyptian manned the seclusion chambers until the disease burnt itself out and Nigeria got a clean bill of health.
And so for Gukas, “This is not a Nigerian story, but a world story. It’s about the interconnectedness of the human spirit”.
Senior Pastor of House on the Rock, Pastor Paul Adefarasin and his wife, Ifeanyi were also in attendance. He couldn’t help but draw parallel between the life and death struggle of the protagonists in the film, in that grim struggle, and their eventual triumph with the latent, slumbering Nigerian spirit that has failed to rise.
According to him, “The film speaks about the nobler element of our country that is lacking at the moment. Nigeria has the capability to rise above current challenges to be truly great if only we harness the potentials that are readily available”.
One of the producers and CEO of BAP, Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters, who just returned from the U.K. after a successful outing at London West End with her musical theatre, Wakaa, could not contain her joy in pulling off this filmic feat.
93 Days also brings Lagos city alive the way filmmakers haven’t done before. The aerial shots of the city provide breath-taking, panoramic view that makes the city far more enchanting that it truly is. It is the artist at work.
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