Exactly 2 years ago, BellaNaija published the exclusive story of Ebola survivor, Dr. Ada Igonoh. By the time the story was shared, Nigeria had lost 8 people to Ebola. The epidemic left millions of people quaking in anguish and mostly fear; a fear of what might have been if the amazing team of doctors at First Consultants Hospital, Ikoyi hadn’t intervened.
Dr. Igonoh’s story was my first true insight into how close to a cataclysmic disaster we came. It was also the first time I really saw the human heart behind the name Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. This incredible woman, ensured that Patient Zero, Patrick Sawyer, was contained within the walls of the hospital.
Of the 5 Nigerian films I’ve seen so far at #TIFF16, 93 Days has left the deepest impression in my heart. The film was an attempt to give visuals to the 93 days in 2014, when Ebola wrecked its havoc in Nigeria.
How do you paint a picture of sorrow and devastation without making your audience feel like they just left a ghoul’s lair? You can do this by showcasing the heroes of the tragedy, and to celebrate the victory over a terrifying situation. This is exactly what Steve Gukas and his team did with the film.
93 Days is not a celebration of one hero, neither is it a biopic of Dr. Adadevoh’s life. Instead, the film shows the lives of the different individuals who ensured that Nigeria was not consumed. The film told the story of the synergy between the governmental arms, the public health expatriates, the medical officers, drivers, and doctors. With 93 Days, it was obvious that this film sought to give honour where it was due.
In a country where we believe can hardly get the fire service to come through in a raging fire, 93 Days gave us a glimpse into the roaring success we have the potential to be.
Keppy Ekpenyong -Bassey played the role of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American reported to have been the index case of Ebola in Nigeria. The film showed him being ill and sweating profusely, as his aide, played by Adebola Williams, checked him into First Consultant. As with every film where you know the end of the story, you know what to expect, but it still doesn’t stop your reactions. My stomach churned in anger every time there was a scene with Patrick Sawyer. It didn’t particularly help that Keppy Ekpenyong-Bassey was sitting right beside me. It took the willpower of a thousand horses to stop me from punching the poor actor in the face. I did want to actually punch him for a sin of his own – when he fell asleep. Oh, and there was this weird accent thing going on. I wasn’t sure if that was the way the Liberian accent is supposed to sound, but it didn’t sound quite right.
Bimbo Akintola played the role of Dr. Adadevoh. She is a great actress and it was easy to see her slip easily into the role of a devoted, hardworking woman, who is passionate about her work. The film attempted to show Dr. Adadevoh’s commitment to her profession, even at home, by showing scenes with her husband and son, Bankole Cardoso.
The light hearted banter at the meal table seemed believable enough until, Bankole said ‘MumZEE’. Bankole Cardoso was played by Charles Oke. Honestly, that MumZEE thing was really distracting because it kept sounding off and disingenuous. He, unfortunately said that word till the end of the movie.
Somkele Idhalama played the role of Dr. Igonoh and I can truly see why she was selected as one of the TIFF Rising Stars. I’m not very sure about the choice of Seun Kentebe to play her husband. I’ve seen Seun Kentebe on stage a lot of times and he’s fantastic in theatre. I don’t really know if he was the best fit for this role – on screen.
It was indeed refreshing to see Tina Mba, Franca Brown and Charles Okafor on screen again. Danny Glover, our token American actor seemed stilted. I’m not sure… maybe it was the attempt to speak with a Nigerian accent.
I particularly loved the scene with taxi driver who had to convey one of the infected nurses to the centre. Yoruba actor, Kayode ‘Aderukpoko’ Olaiya played the role perfectly and it further drove home the point about how quickly the disease had a potential to spread.
The dialogue explored different sides of how families were ripped apart, only to be held together by bonds of faith in something, anything in this sudden fight against this thing they had never seen before. Ebola threatened to take them and leave their children without parents. The pain was palpable and the mood in the theatre was a reflection of the seriousness of the movie.
There seemed to be a concerted agreement that we had this close shave with disaster and these people held the wall of fire at bay, and gave us a chance to sit in that room. Those people, whose lives were being depicted on screen fought with everything they had to save us, as a people.
They deserved to be honoured and recognized across the globe. With a message of hope, 93 Days reminded me that as a country we can overcome anything if we work together. I’ve never been more proud to be a Nigerian.
Thank you, Steve Lukas & Bolanle Austen-Peters.
No payments in cash, or promise of favours, have been received in exchange for the ‘Atoke at TIFF16’ stories. The views expressed in the stories reflect the writer’s personal take from the events she attended at the festival – and not the opinion of a film critic.
Photo Credit: TIFF