The Encounter: Tale Of Biafra On Screen
At Last, Trino Studios has released The Encounter, a poignant historical drama adaptation based on the short story The Encounter, by historian, Henry Onyema, has finally hit the screen. Set in 1967 during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the short film, which captures the remarkable story of a moment in the history of the nation and how the events that transpired helped in determining what Nigeria is today.
Centered on an imprisoned Ifeajuna, who is summoned by Biafran Commander-in-Chief General Emeka, for one last conversation, the film did not only address a highly significant issue of the time through seamless storytelling, but entertains, educates and also informs the audience on the importance and value of Nigerian history, by delving into the subject matter and dissecting and analysing the roles played by pivotal historic personalities.
The two defining characters in the short film are critically juxtaposed in order to depict the tension that was characteristic of the time. Their ensuing conversation causes the audience to engage in meaningful reflection. Gregory Ojefua and Amara Onoh played the role of the main characters, General Emeka and Emmanuel Ifeajuna respectively.
Directed by Tolu Ajayi and produced by Ekene Mekwunye, while the screenplay was by Sammy Egbemawei. The original Story was by Henry Onyema, while executive producers are Uche Okocha and Tunwa Aderinokun.
According to the director, the production started with the consultation of the production designer, Uche Ohiri, who supplied various sketches that led to the creation of a mood board, which served as the inspiration for visuals in terms of what The General’s office would look like.
“Of course, a lot of attention was paid to detail; the idea also was to fully immerse the actors so as to ensure when they walked on set they truly felt that they were part of that period,” Ajayi said.
During the screenwriting for The Encounter, extensive research was carried out on books about Biafra, including Mr. Onyema’s short story that the film was adapted from, as well as the book Why We Struck by Adewale Ademoyega, which actually inspired Mr. Onyema’s short story.
“All this armed with me with crucial information that allowed me to put together the script for the film,” the screenwriter, Egbemawei said.
Though it took a long time coming, the executive producer Uche Okocha is impressed with the outcome of the production.
“It took a year to make the film in terms of carrying out thorough research in order to craft the screenplay as well as putting together a worthy cast and crew for production. Another writer, Mr. Frederick Anyaegbunam, was also consulted in order to further build on the screenplay,” he hinted.
For the original storywriter Henry Onwema, the film tells a story about significant characters and a significant period in Nigerian history.
“The film was written and is screened as a story that humanises the major characters. It entertains, educates and enlightens. The overall themes of the film will go a long way in portraying Nigerians positively as people who cherish their history and are capable of telling the story in an entertaining manner,” he said.
On why the production company decided to release the film at this time in our history when there are visible agitations for Biafra, the producer Mekwunye explained that, “it’s very important that we delve into the history of Nigeria by analysing, discussing and educating ourselves about it. We had no reservations producing a short film focused on this because all across the world, there are documentaries and films that focus on history and we find that it is equally important that we begin to do so in Nigeria.”