Movie title: Black November
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Runtime: 1 hr. 36 min.
Date of release: January, 9th, 2015
Producer: Jeta Amata
Director: Jeta Amata
Screenplay: Jeta Amata
Location: Niger Delta, Nigeria; Los Angeles, California, U.S.A
Reviewer: Okey-Ogunjiofor Joanna
Vivica A. Fox
Ebiere Perema (played by Mbong Amata), a scholarship beneficiary of Western Oil, a petroleum company in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria returns home from schooling abroad to find her hometown in ruins. On her return, her mother dies in a fire started on the pipelines in the midst of yet another oil spillage threatening to destroy their land and water, two main sources of the Niger-Deltan living and diet.
Struck, Ebiere leads an activist movement, speaking up against the division that Western Oil explotation is wreaking in her hometown. She soon garners the approval and support of the people and becomes the forefront leader of the mobilisation of the Niger-Deltan youth to end the injustice being meted out on her people. These youth are seen as the rebels who end up kidnapping the CEO of Western Oil. In light of this movement, toes are stepped on, love is found and battles are won and lost.
The Director of Photography’s (James Costello) command of shots is superb. The movie opens with a Long Shot of the Niger Delta and then moves on to exhibit an Extreme Wide Angle Shot on L.A, California, U.S.A. Certain library shots of the Niger-Delta create a sense of reality as they take on a documentary-like quality, giving the viewers a peep into the true day-to-day lives of the dispossessed people of the Niger-Delta These shots come in Extreme Wide Angle, Wide Angle, Mid Angle and a few Low Angles. There was the marked absence of any Canted Angle Shots in the movie, and rightly so.
Camera movement and speed is on point as there is no misplaced use of Dolly shots, hand-held shots, fast motion and slow motion, The most noted use of fast motion is used to depict the growth of the protagonist, Ebiere, from girl to woman. On the other hand, the most noted use of the slow motion is at the end of the movie where the effect of the climax is heightened.
The movie is broken down into 3 major themes.
· The misappropriation of the Niger-Deltan Wealth and the rise of the Niger-Delta militancy since the early 1900s
· The life and times of Ogoni and Niger-Delta hero, Ken Saro-Wiwa
· The renaissance of her (Ebiere Perema) mother, Franca’s spirit
The movie attempts to borrow from the experience of Nigerian hero and activist of the Ogoni tribesmen of the Niger-delta, Ken Saro-Wiwa. It depicts accurately the harsh living conditions and poverty of the oil-lands. It also emphasises that sometimes, in fighting for a just cause, unlike in make-believe, lives are lost and sacrificed to achieve the ultimate goal; just like the hanging of Ken-Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni tribe men.
Due to the dissatisfaction that arises from knowing what one deserves and realising that one doesn’t have it, social unrest may rise. This is well told as the people sway from mindset to mindset till they find the one mindset that honestly pursues the interest of the people at heart. The depiction also enables Nigerians and the world at large to view the Niger-Delta militancy from the viewpoint of the rebels themselves and creates empathy for the course which the people fight to win.
Ebiere’s mother, Franca prior to her death was depicted as a woman of influence; one who could mobilise the community to take action for the betterment of the community. Upon her death, Ebiere fast takes up this role, fighting for justice, acting as the fearless voice of the people.
The movie was well-directed and the use of animation, stunts-coordination is breathtaking. However, the contrast lies in the ease of ability of the rebel group, predominantly poor, to find their way over to the USA, a country, continents away and not sharing common boundary with Nigeria. Acting was also well done, as well as costume and make-up, especially the ability to depict Ebiere Perema as a teenager, a undergrad, graduate and full-blown woman both in joy and in distress with the same actress, Mbong Amata.
Other than this, this movie is a wonderful depiction of a fragment of Nigerian history, culture and heritage and is a must watch.
My favourite quote; ‘‘What they do is give us sickness and then treat us. They make us hungry and then, feed us. They kill our loved ones and then offer us money for burials.’