'76, formerly Lions of '76, is a 2016 Nigerian historical fiction drama film produced by Adonaijah Owiriwa and Izu Ojukwu and directed by Izu Ojukwu. It stars Ramsey Nouah, Chidi Mokeme, Rita Dominic and Ibinabo Fiberesima.
Set six years after the civil war, a young officer from the Middle Belt gets into a romantic relationship with an O-level student from the South-eastern region. However, their relationship is strained by constant military postings. The soldier gets accused of being involved in the 1976 unsuccessful military coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, and the heavily pregnant wife, gets entangled in an emotional dilemma.
The historical account in '76 went through a seven-month approval period at the Nigerian Military before filming started. The film which is set in the '70s was shot in Ibadan, Oyo. The film has been in production for about five years.
Ramsey Nouah as Captain Joseph Dewa
Chidi Mokeme as Major Gomos
Rita Dominic as Suzie
Ibinabo Fiberesima as Angela
Daniel K. Daniel as CPL Obi
Memry Savanhu as Eunice
Adonai Owiriwa as Captain V. M. Jaiye
Pat Nebo as Colonel Aliu
Nelly Ekwereogu as Ikenna
Shuaibu Ebenesi Adams as Lieutenant Jubril
Debo Oguns as Noel
Ojukwu has always had fantasies about making military movies, so much that he follows many coup stories. When the '76 project came along, he had to do a lot more readings and research, and also consult scholars on the crucial aspects of the story, to ensure historical accuracy; over a year was spent on the pre-production stage of the film. The historical account of '76 has the support of the Nigerian Military as the script went through a seven-month investigation and approval period before filming started. The military also assigned personnel to train the actors and guide the military aspect of the film. During the film's development, the director tried to minimize violence as he wants people to focus on the story and not get distracted or pissed off by gory images. Eight period cars of the 1970s were refurbished to be used in the film.
Filming took place mainly at Mokola Barracks, Ibadan, Oyo. The film was shot using Arri Super 16 cameras; It was initially meant to be shot on 35 mm film cameras, but the ground glass of one of the cameras to be used got damaged. As a result, the director opted to shoot on 16mm film cameras instead. The film stock used for filming, along with other equipments used for production were subsidized by the Nigerian Film Corporation. After over four months on set, Principal photography was concluded in July 2012.
A teaser trailer was released to the public on 20 November 2012 The release was initially slated for 4 October 2013, but was pushed back indefinitely due to delayed post production. A first official trailer for the film was released on 14 November 2014,. The movie was selected to premiere at the Toronto International film Festival in September, 2016 and at the BFI London Film Festival. The film was released on 25th November 2016.
Izu Ojukwu stated that “it’s a story told from a dual point of view – from the soldier’s patriotic perspective and from that of the officer’s wives.” Ojukwu also makes it clear that the film pays homage to the strength of Soldiers' wives, “As far as I’m concerned, the wives are the real soldiers,…they are the ones who suffer from whatever decisions their husbands make — whether on the battlefield or within their office complexes.”
Issues reflected in the film include the rumours of foreign involvement in Murtala Muhammed's coup; Ojukwu states: "You cannot run away from them… You must deal with all the rumours — although we cannot say, factually, what happened…". The film also strongly portrays intertribal marriages; '76 is set six years after the Nigerian Civil War and according to the director, this was an era when the Nigerian people started playing down on all forms of discrimination and saw themselves more as brothers and sisters.