TIFF 2016: Green White Green

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In a city as large and culturally diverse as Lagos it is easy to feel as if one’s voice is not being heard. This is especially true for the youth who are caught between the traditions that have been the foundation for the people for decades, and the modern world that keep the city moving forward. It is this quest for identity that serves as the basis for Abba Makama’s Green White Green. The film follows Uzoma (Ifeanyi Dike), a self-taught artist, and his friends as the search for a sense of direction in their lives. Little do they know that the answers they seek are locked within a short film that Uzoma’s pal Baba (Jamal Ibrahim) has asked them to help him make. Tasked with creating a film that captures the essence of Nigeria, Baba’s film proves to be the gate way for the group to not only get a better understanding of their country, but themselves in the process.

Playing like a cross between American Graffiti and Be Kind Rewind, Green White Green is an energetic comedy that celebrates the importance of youth in Lagos. Rather than simply relying on its youth is our future message, Makama’s film takes time to explore just how culturally rich Nigeria is. He fills the film with references to the important historical and political elements that have made the country what it is today, while smartly injecting modern American pop culture references to display just how in touch with the world at large Nigeria has become.

While the young cast of actors, a rarity in a Nollywood industry that favours performers to be mid-thirties and up, do a solid job, the film does hit some rough patches from a technical standpoint. There are times when the sound mixing and the visuals are not as sharp as they could have been. In some ways these flaws work within the context of the Baba’s amateur short film, but not necessarily when looking at the film as a whole. Fortunately, Green White Green’s youthful exuberance and sharp humour allow the film to overcome its shortcomings. Showing that Nigeria’s future, especially its art and culture, is in good hands, Makama’s film proves to be a surprisingly engaging ode to all that makes Nigeria such as special place.