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Blood & Oil

Nigeria 2019
produced by
Rogers Ofime, Ike Neliaku (executive), Dudafa Waripamo-Owei (executive)
directed by Curtis Graham
starring Olu Jacobs, Richard Mofe-Damijo, William R. Moses, Taiwo Ajai Lycett, Ifeanyi Williams, Ivie Okujaye, Dayton Sinkia, Bradley Gordon, Michael Walker, Willie Ebiegberi, Chuks Chyke, TK Bello, Tanya Petukhova, Carly Cowalski, Al Kellici, Michael Douglas Cake, Lord Frank, Apel Orduen, Chris Odey, Daniel K. Daniel, Wale Adebayo, Emmanuel Amangala, Consider Numo
written by Samantha Iwowo, music by Ernie Sample

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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40 or so years ago, a small village in the Niger Delta sold its oil drilling rights to a global oil corporation due to promise it would thrive from the deal - only the wealth never manifested, the money made from oil went to the company and the locals were hired only for menial jobs if at all. And an oil spill eventually contaminates the drinking water, slowly killing the population. Of course, many locals are dissatisfied, none more so than Gunpowder (Richard Mofe-Damijo) and his gang of militants who are determined to do something about it - but doing something about it in their case means kidnapping one of the higher ups of the corporation, Powell (William R. Moses), to force the gouvernment to revoke drilling rights. But the operation goes wrong, and with the help of the local town elder Timipre (Olu Jacobs) manages to escape. Now Timipre isn't 100% on Powell's side though, he just knows what is right, and kidnapping and hostage taking is simply not right. And of course, Powell isn't really the bad guy here, either, he has been sent by the company to find out where they have gone wrong and make amends with the locals - and even if that should be only for public relations, it would still be a win-win situation. But in the current conflict, subtleties like this are bound to fall on deaf ears. Thing is, when helping Powell escape, Timipre accidently hands him over to extremists (and gets captured himself in the process), and suddenly being taken hostage by Gunpowder and gang doesn't sound like the worst-case scenario anymore ...

 

Blood & Oil is a political thriller that really shows how things ought to be done, even on a budget: While portraying its problem in broad strokes, it makes clear that there are no easy answers, that there are multiple sides to the issue at hand, and it stays close to the people affected, but as a heterogenous group who each have their own points of view that might be conflicting but not exclusive to one another. But that all doesn't make Blood & Oil a preachy film at all, as there's plenty of tension and suspense throughout, of violence and excitement, carried by a solid cast, a tight directorial effort and beautiful camerawork.

And frankly, this is a testament of how far Nigerian film has come in recent years, leaving many a first world low budget effort in its shadow.

 

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