B for Boy//Chika Anadu


I was deeply moved by Chika Anadu's debut feature, B for Boythat recently had its Lagos premiere screening hosted by The Life House. Stark, understated, realistic, the film is being called an "elegant realist drama [that] questions Nigeria's gender divide as middle-class Amaka resorts to desperate measures after a miscarriage." 

What struck me most about the film was how well it wove together issues of culture, tradition, womanhood, polygamy, and patriarchy into a personal story about a woman fighting to keep her marriage together--both dramatically and narratively, the film was nuanced and accessible enough to satisfy Nigerian and Western audiences alike. 

I've been thinking a lot about this very topic given the nature of my own work--how to translate a story grounded in a specific space and people to a universal audience. Chika does this brilliantly, while simultaneously making a bold statement by doing the film entirely in Igbo.

I can appreciate Chika's decision; she feels that Africans perform better in their native tongue, when they're not grasping for words or worrying about grammar. That seemed to hold true in her film, which featured some of the best performances I've ever seen by Nigerians--proving that the dream really is possible. In the Q&A after the screening, Chika spoke about how she brought in an acting coach to work with the actors to help tamp down some of the theatrics and overacting characteristic of Nigerian cinema. The result was simply breathtaking. 

You should definitely go see this film. It's no wonder it won the Breakthrough Audience Award at AFI Fest 2013. --AL.
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