Film Preview: Diamond Wahala
Just when the rest of the world wonders at the rapidity with which Sierra Leone`s movie industry is growing, its ever avid audience is bombarded with yet more reasons to marvel at.
‘Diamond Wahala’ is the latest work to come out of this increasingly movie-crazed country.
This is not your usual Sierra Leonean movie in many respects. From the plot line to cast composition, it introduces an exceptionally new side to filmmaking in this country.
A poor family barely surviving through the odds of destitution stumbles onto a curious stone that could well change their lives dramatically.
Is it a diamond or not?
Unsure of what to do, the family seeks the expertise of The ‘Syrian’ [a Sierra Leone Lebanese] friend and former schoolmate of their elder son, Mamoud.
Meanwhile, news reaches Pa Kandeh, the ‘Moriman’ [fortune teller], who goes bonkers at the thought of his friend having found a diamond.
How can he of all people in the village, the man who makes people get rich, remains in poverty while someone with no hope gets catapulted from poverty into sudden wealth?
From now on Pa Kandeh`s mission is to get the diamond for himself. And he will do everything to achieve this.
Mamoud and his friends are taken aback at his father’s decision to turn down a bag full of money offered for the diamond, saying the stone belongs to ‘Mammy Water’ [Mammy Water being a Sierra Leonean folklore around a womanly figure that is believed to live in the waters of the country].
But ambitious Foday, Mamoud`s younger brother, meanwhile, is determined to retrieve back what belongs to his family.
Who ends up getting the diamond can only be revealed at the end of this undoubtedly epic film.
For the director of Diamond Wahala, Desmond Finney, who also plays the role of the insensate Pa Kandeh, this film fuses a new impetus into the style of Sierra Leonean moviemaking. Being a comedy, it is sure to captivate the audience.
“We are trying to make a point that if you are a film actor, you must be able to express yourself in any language,” Finney says, referring to the use of Krio as dialogue in the film.
Diamond Wahala is sure to stand out as a pioneering film in terms of almost everything about it – plot, theme, casts… It makes history by being the first film made purely out of improvisation; and 90% of its cast are students, mostly first timers, from the various schools of the University of Sierra Leone.
And if any previously made Sierra Leonean film has ever attempted at generating fun, it will surely fail in the presence of Diamond Wahala.
Importantly, Diamond Wahala explores the day-to-day issues around one of the most important mineral resources this country is endowed with.
Many people know Sierra Leone for the so-called ‘Blood Diamond’. The Hollywood movie bearing the same name has attracted an almost equal height of acceptance and criticism.
For many Sierra Leoneans, besides its misrepresentation of the real situation on the ground, Blood Diamond the movie failed to appreciate the country as a potential movie making centre due to its choice of setting and casting.
Diamond Wahala, in a way, seems to rectify the wrongs portrayed by that film. It kind of proves wrong the makers of the Hollywood blockbuster by not only assembling an all Sierra Leonean casts, but also putting together a fantastic piece of work which is sure of trilling cinema goers far beyond this country`s borders.
“If the diamond belongs to you, it should benefit you,” says Finney, a lecturer of drama at Forah Bay College.
“And this is what this film explores.”
Diamond Wahala can pass for the comedy of the season.
It premiers this Saturday, September 22 at the famous Lagunda Cinema.
By: Kemo Cham
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