Thanks to a tweet from Chinoso Ejemba. better known as Aproko Doctor (@aproko_doctor), the Nigerian movie “Strain”, which is streaming on Netflix, was brought to our attention.
Aproko Doctor played Dr. Hassan in the film, the doctor of a sufferer of the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), Ekene Ezeji portrayed by the young promising actor Nifemi Lawal.
On the surface, “Strain” is about a creating awareness about the Sickel Cell Disease (SCD) and recent advancements in treatment, but at the core of the story are the struggles of sufferers’ such Ekene and their families. His is stigmatized. His parents must create more time for a sick child and his sister’s life is dramatically disrupted and she does not handle it well. Call her selfish but it’s adolescence. That stage when self interests begin to take priority over everything else including ailing siblings.
While the makeup could have been better – the pitfalls are very evident from the first scene – the child stars Lawal and Angel Unigwe (who played Ebere Ezeji – Ekene’s older sister) were both compelling and charming. It was also a delight to have actors Alex Usifo, Gloria Young and grace the screen after a long time. Other cast members are Okey Uzoeshi, Shushu Abubakar and the very capable Bimbo Akintola. It would seem that in recent times, Akintola has more interested in roles which tackle social issues following performances in “Heaven’s Hell“, “93 Days” which is based on the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria and “Diamonds in the Sky” which follows three families who navigate uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis of family members and its threat to family bonds.
Except for Tunde Kelani’s 2014 drama “Dazzling Mirage,” not much work has been done on the subject from a filmmaking point of view. So, the movie “Strain” is a welcome addition to the body of work on the subject. The film was originally released in cinemas in 2018. But it is not styled like the Nollywood rib-cracking blockbusters which local movie fans have come to love. However, stories like these are extremely important for the education which they offer and should be weekend family movie picks. Among other lessons, the doctor warns not to address sickle cell sufferers as “Sicklers”.
The movie, “Strain,” is streaming on Netflix.