'Half of a Yellow Sun': Thandie Newton, typhoid and a tale of civil war

By Jenny Soffel for CNN | 10/21/2013, 1:11 p.m.
One of the most eagerly awaited films to come out of Africa in recent years, starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel ...
The movie 'Half Of A Yellow Sun'. It is movie adaptation of award-winning Nigerian novel of same name. Photo courtesy of 'Yellow Sun.'

Newton, born to a Zimbabwean mother and a British father, has described Olanna as the "most sophisticated, modern woman" she's ever played and critics have praised her performance as the highlight of her career so far. "It was a really tough shoot and Thandie was just always a member of the team and it was great," Bandele said of working with Newton.

"The budget we had and my mission were not completely compatible, but somehow we managed to pull it off and I think we did because I had a great cast, an amazing crew and the support of the people of Calabar."

Bandele said he even had the support of the book's author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but that he was anxious to find out what she thought of his adaptation. "The day she came to see it, during the end of post-production, I didn't go into the production room because I was so nervous," he said.

"I also wanted her to respond however she wanted to respond, and when I heard that Chimamanda loved it I just sighed with relief."

"Half of a Yellow Sun" -- said to be the most expensive Nigerian movie to date, with a reported budget of $8 million -- is a milestone in Nigerian film. Nigeria is the second-largest producer of films in the world, after India, with around 50 movies per week.

To Bandele this is just the beginning. He is currently working on an online series called "Shuga" and has high hopes for the country's movie industry. "The future of Nigerian film is very good," he said.

"There are many young filmmakers right now out there. Some of them have grown up within the Nollywood tradition, others have gone to film school and you just have this mix of talent (and) lots of voices and I'm really excited."

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