Niyi Akinmolayan’s latest film, The Arbitration, opens with an warning to the audience that there are three sides to a story: “Yours, mine, and the truth.” Figuring out which side to believe, well, that is the tricky part. In this he said/she said courtroom drama the facts are not so easy to come by. The arbitration at the core of the film involves a lawsuit filed by Dara (Adesua Etomi), a business savvy computer engineer, against her boss Gbenga (O.C. Ukeje). Claiming that Gbenga raped her and withheld the work related compensation she is owed, Dara and her lawyer are determined to see justice served.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that Gbenga, a married man, and Dara had a torrid affair for two-years prior to the night in question. Their relationship only began to sour once Dara discovered that Gbenga’s wife was pregnant. Tackling the issue of rape in cinema is always a tricky affair, as one does not want to run the risk of sensationalizing it or fall into victim shaming tropes, however, Akinmolayan skillfully navigates the subject matter in a thought-provoking and entertaining way. He presents a film about love, lust and betrayal and places it within a morally grey sphere. Injecting just the right amount of humour to break up the drama, and trusting in his talented cast-Iretiola Doyle in particular is wonderful as Gbenga’s lawyer-Akinmolayan succeeds in creating a film that shows nothing is ever straightforward when love and business mix.
Thursday, September 15, 5:45 PM, Scotiabank
Friday, September 16, 9:45 AM, Scotiabank
Tickets can be purchased at tiff.net