Nigerian censors gave a greenlight to “Half of a Yellow Sun” July 4, more than two months after the board put a hold on the film’s domestic release, citing “regulatory issues.”
While refusing to comment on the conditions surrounding its release, the statement by the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) cleared the way for pic’s country-wide rollout.
“The NFVCB made some edit requests and we have satisfied their requirements without compromising the creative essence of the film as a whole,” says Kene Mkparu of Filmhouse Cinemas, pic’s local distrib. He added that “Yellow Sun” would be released in Nigerian theaters on Aug. 1.
Pic is an adaptation of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s international bestseller, set during the brutal civil war which roiled the West African nation in the 1960s.
The war — which claimed more than a million lives — is still a sensitive issue in Nigeria. Writing for the New Yorker’s website in May, Adichie criticized the censors for what she dubbed “a knee-jerk political response” to fears that the film might “incite violence.” At issue seemed to be a scene in which Christians from the country’s Igbo ethnic group are slaughtered by Muslims from the north — a sensitive topic as ongoing religious violence wracks Africa’s most populous nation.
With a $10 million budget and stars Chiwetel Ojiofor and Thandie Newton in lead roles, “Yellow Sun” is the most ambitious project to lens in a country best known for its low-budget “Nollywood” fare. The U.K.-Nigeria co-prod preemed in Toronto last year and is being distributed in the U.S. by Monterey Media.