A roaring applause capped the film Green White Green at its first ever screening in Nigeria courtesy the 2016 Lights, Camera, Africa Film Festival. The film is, to a large extent, hilarious; and comedy is a catcher any day for Nigerian moviegoers. But Green White Green is not a great film—not to an extent of provoking any thought in the aftermath at least. It is a pleasant and efficient mediocrity. Perhaps in the sense that Nigeria can be referred to as great, Green White Green stands a chance.
Without a well laid out storyline, the filmmaker, Abba T. Makama, embarks on telling the bumpy lives of four adult teenagers: Uzomma (Ifeanyi Dike Jnr), Baba (Jamal Ibrahim) and Segun (Samuel Robinson.) A lady, Uzomma’s girlfriend (Chrystabel Goddy), later joins in from the blue.
The film’s comic tone is quickly established in the juxtaposition of tribalistic remarks made by Bala’s father who is Hausa and Uzomma’s uncle who is Igbo. Although tribalism is still very much embedded in the Nigerian society, the making of it here is raw and somewhat sentimental.
The film begins with a narration of the typical Nigerian society—one of class-ism, laying the foundation on which the film may be perceived as reasonable. Uzomma is from the lower miserably poor strata while Baba is pitched in a super upper rich class; Segun finds himself somewhere in-between. To reconcile this unpopular association, we are told they attended the same secondary school. Every other day, they talk and run their minds through ideas and dreams of what the will like to become in a near future. Later, Baba is denied an admission to a university abroad; Uzomma has no opportunities; and Kola is simply nowhere to be fixed. These characters are not idiots, and this is why it is depressing, and not the least funny, to have them cavorting around in a clueless manner.
Perhaps too long for the fun it gives, the film needs another round of editing.
The director, an escapist of a sort, creates avenues to justify his escape from a production for which he clearly does not have a full grasp. When he needs a turn, he artificially creates one. His tools of escapism in the production are comic, childish (not youthful) exuberance and a stint of romance. Another is in switching at will between filmic forms in the name of making a mockumentary. He needs romance, he plucks a lady from her mother’s grip; he needs a terrorist, he brings some from the North to Uzomma’s uncle; He needs comedy, he stages a stand-up comedy scene; he needs our emotions, he makes Uzomma sleep in a state of the art gallery. As producer and director of his film, Makama is the lord of his own ring as is Ayo Makun in his 30 Days In Atlanta.
In few cases, even the characters question the sensibility of their actions; a situation I believe Makama himself must have encountered a couple of times in his production.
In the end, it will be difficult to say Makama achieves his aim of chronicling Nigerian political history and fostering unity even in satirising the nation’s history.
by Dare Dan