Directed by Tunde Kelani • Drama • With Uche Ama Abriel, Bukky Ajayi, Larinde Akinleye • 2000 • 110 minutes
Thunderbolt will come as a bolt out of the blue to most Americans, even aficionados of African cinema. It is one of the best examples of the little-known but burgeoning video industry of Nigeria. Most titles are heavily influenced by soap opera and focus on the Lagos elite, simultaneously ogling their material success while deploring their corruption. Infidelity and magic figure prominently often together. Thunderbolt rises above these by attempting to treat a political theme - national unity - important unfinished business for Nigeria in the aftermath of the brutal Civil War of the 1960s.
The first half of the film is in a sense a retelling of the Othello story - except the protagonists are not Abyssinian and Venetian but Yoruba and Ibo. In the second half of the film a distinctly West African emphasis on the supernatural comes to the fore; curses and ritual cleansing take the place of psychological explanations.
“If the continuous laughter and cheering of our diverse New York audiences is any indication, this film has true international appeal.” - Mahen Bonetti, New York African Film Festival