Exclusive screening of ‘The Man Died’ to celebrate Wole Soyinka’s 90th birthday in Lagos

Lagos is set to host the exclusive screening of the highly anticipated film “The Man Died” on Friday, July 12.

This invitation-only event serves as a flagship of the global celebrations for the 90th birthday of Africa’s first Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, who turns 90 on July 13. This significant event is expected to draw an illustrious crowd of dignitaries, members of the diplomatic corps, industry stakeholders, family, friends, and associates of Soyinka, as well as key members of the cast and crew of the film.

Inspired by Soyinka’s renowned “Prison Notes,” the film adaptation delves into his harrowing 22-month solitary confinement during the Nigerian Civil War. Directed by Awam Amkpa and produced by Femi Odugbemi of Zuri 24 Media, the film features an entirely Nigerian crew, underscoring authenticity in capturing Soyinka’s experiences. Amkpa, a long-time associate of Soyinka and a professor at New York University, Abu Dhabi, has stated that this approach was intentional to maintain cultural and historical accuracy. The film was shot in Lagos and Ibadan in late 2023 and was supported financially by New York University, Abu Dhabi.

The narrative, adapted by writer Bode Asiyanbi, is a fictionalised account based on Soyinka’s prison memoirs, expanded to include elements from his later works, such as Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years and You Must Set Forth at Dawn. Amkpa has explained that the film is not a straightforward biopic but a broader narrative exploring Soyinka’s profound experiences and their impact on his subsequent works.

Key figures from the diplomatic corps, eminent dignitaries, and industry stakeholders are expected to attend this commemorative event. Although not the official premiere, this special screening promises to be a significant cultural celebration. The formal premiere is slated for a later date.

Admission is strictly by invitation, and guests will be admitted based on their RSVP to the event, managed by ONE Management.

The film showcases notable Nigerian talent, with Wale Ojo portraying Soyinka and Sam Dede as his interrogator, Yisa. Other prominent actors include Abraham Amkpa, Norbert Young, Francis Onwochei and Christina Oshunniyi, among others. The production also boasts the contributions of renowned industry professionals such as director of photography Agbo Kelly and production designer Theo Lawson.

Odugbemi, a veteran of the Nigerian movie and television industry, expressed his hopes that the film would inspire a new generation by presenting Soyinka’s story of resistance and courage in a visual medium. He noted that “The Man Died” is more than just a memoir; it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression. Odugbemi, who has been involved in numerous successful projects like Maroko, Gidi Blues and Tinsel, sees this film as a vehicle to reach a broader audience, particularly young people, who might be less inclined to engage with written texts but can be profoundly impacted by visual storytelling.

Following the Lagos screening, “The Man Died” will debut at The Africa Centre in London on July 25, as part of a nine-day celebration of Soyinka’s life and legacy. This event, jointly organised by the Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange and The Africa Centre, will further honour the Nobel laureate’s contributions to literature and human rights. The film is also set to tour select festivals worldwide before reaching public cinemas in Nigeria, the UK, the USA, Europe, and other regions.


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