Onye Ozi (The Messenger) would become the first Igbo language film to hit Nigeria’s cinemas on 22 November.
Director Obi Emelonye, who is also responsible for blockbusters like Mirror Boy and Last Flight To Abuja, says it’s nice to appeal to “a certain group of people with no disrespect to the other languages and tribes”.
Onye Ozi is a “psychological comedy” about a typical Igbo native, Metumaribe (Okey Bakassi) who leaves Africa with high expectations for London to marry Mkpurunma (Ngozi Thompson Igwebike), a lady with two kids.
Metu who had a two year plan to return to Nigeria as a self-made man, found himself in a complicated situation where he becomes a messenger between the living and the dead. Metu had to choose to respect T.J [Stephen Moriaty], an old English man he indirectly promised to avenge his death or give up his London dream and return to Nigeria with nothing.
“He [Okey Bakassi] was just perfect with the lead character. He was funny yet was very professional. Ngozi was incredible, not being a famous face, yet she did a magnificent job,” Emelonye told reporters in Lagos.
Onye Ozi premiered in London on 18 October and was screened in 60 different countries that same day including Saudi Arabia.
Emelonye hopes Onye Ozi will be successfully accepted.
“It’s a nice film which tells a contemporary story of us today,” Emelonye says. “It doesn’t restrict its audience and favors no one.”
With the appearance of white men and women speaking the Igbo language in the movie, Emelonye says it was one of the major challenges he faced while making the movie.
“They [white actors] had to study the language as fast as they could and had to sound like they were not amateurs.”
Another challenge was getting actors on set on time.
“It also wasn’t easy getting the actors to London since most of them work and act at the same time and getting non-famous faces too was a huge risk. But we are glad we had a great result,” Obi explains.