There is nothing like seeing people that look like yourself on the big and small screens! Because representation matters!
With a strong commitment to changing the continent’s narrative and projecting Africa in new and compelling ways, EbonyLife Films (a subsidiary of EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first global Black entertainment and lifestyle television network owned by media mogul Mo Abudu) has released its first feature film ‘Fifty’ on Netflix. The romantic drama is set in the megacity African city, Lagos, Nigeria revolving around four women at a pivotal point in their lives, navigating careers, love, relationships against the backdrop of African traditions and cultural obligations.
Cast of Fifty in London, England
The women’s lives are interwoven in magical ways; you get a peak into how African women relate to another, love and support one another. The drama they encounter leads to some explosive and at times emotional scenes. Forty-nine year old Maria has an affair with a married man that results in an unexpected pregnancy and reality TV starlet, Tola has an invidious family secret that threatens her marriage to attorney Kunle. “The movie depicts the dilemmas and challenges as well as hopes and aspirations of women all over the world,” shared Dakore Akande who played Tola in the movie.
Abudu reiterated that it was important that EbonyLife Films produces movies that were powerfully rooted in Africa but were able to connect to a global audience through common values and shared identity. “Fifty started as a story idea, when I turned 50. I thought it would be interesting to look at different scenarios women at 50 could face. Imagine you are 50 and you have deep-seated family secrets that you have never shared with anyone – what emotions you would be grappling with at the point you have to confront and share the secrets? Or you are 50 and the doctor tells you that you have breast cancer.” For Abudu, a British-born Nigerian, that meant putting African women in strong lead roles.
Mo Abudu (in white frock) & lead cast of Fifty
With riveting performances by Nigerian actresses Ireti Doyle who plays the character of Eizabeth, Omoni Oboli who plays Maria, Dakore Akande who plays Tola and Nse Ikpe-Etim who plays Kate, the movie finds the women at the intersection of their lives. For example, large-than-life character, Elizabeth is world-renowned, extremely successful obstetrician whose appetite for younger men has estranged her from her daughter; “In one scene you see Elizabeth deliver a speech in front of millions; in another scene she is chauffer-driven to her various meetings and engagements; then you see her playful with her young lover in a love scene. You also see in her moment of weakness and vulnerability dealing with a very strained relationship with her daughter. The goal with ‘Fifty’ was to portray the multidimensional realities of these African women.”
Directed by renowned filmmaker and playwright, Biyi Bandele, his second after his directorial debut film ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, the ever-bustling, resurgent megacity, Lagos, the commercial capital of Africa’s biggest and most vibrant economy comes alive in the movie. Weaving in Nigeria’s top musical artists, Waje, Tiwa Savage, Femi Kuti, Nneka and King Sunny Ade, into the movie, Bandele does a remarkable job in capturing life in the sprawling cosmopolitan backdrops of the upper middle-class neighborhoods of Victoria Island and Ikoyi in Lagos. “The scenes in the market and at the shrine were shot live on location and in real time,” explained Abudu describing the making of ‘Fifty’. In addition to Bandele, Abudu enlisted the help of multi-award winning filmmaker, Tope Oshin Ogun, as Producer and Malcolm McLean, one of London’s most sought after technicians as Director of Photography.
‘Fifty’ scores high in depicting the everyday lives of African women coming of age and resonated with audiences who lauded its modern portrayal of African women. With the successful premiere of ‘Fifty’ at the 59th BFI London Film Festival in September and in Lagos, Nigeria (the movie is said to be number one in the country), Abudu has embarked on an ambitious journey of becoming one of Africa’s most influential story tellers. True to her vision of telling the story of a new Africa to a wider audience, Abudu negotiated for the movie to be available on Netflix. Not bad for a first time movie Executive Producer.
Watch the trailer HERE:
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