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AFRIFF Spotlight: Tolu Ajayi's 'Over The Bridge' Is A Journey You Have To Take
'Over the Bridge' leads the viewer on the solemn triumph that accompanies the peace and pace of healing. It’s a journey not just for the characters, but one of certain freedom for the audience.
‘Go Deeper, Go Deeper’, was what Tolulope Ajayi, the director of Over the Bridge said to Ozzy Agu who plays the film’s lead character. This did the job because the depth of acting and the way the actors carried the characters made all the difference.
Over the Bridge follows a famous investment banker who abruptly goes missing in the middle of a major project after being caught up in a controversy. This film explores themes around mental health, marriage, community, and social justice expertly delivered by the phenomenal acting of Ozzy Agu (Folarin), Segilola Ogidan (Jumoke), Deyemi Okanlawon (Kunle), and other veteran actors like Joke Silva (Engineer Suleiman) and Akin Lewis (Chief Agoro).
But Agu is the star of this film because of the way he expresses the complex emotional and physiological dilemma of his character.
What sets the film apart beyond Agu’s acting is the cinematography. From the first frame, the viewer is taken into a different world through the lens of the director of photography, KC Obiajulu. Each frame is captured in a way that works in tandem with the story to depict the different states of Folarin’s character.
This film is particularly allegorical. Every item, location, and object captured was symbolic of the entire story in itself.
Obiajulu has been on this journey of exquisite cinematography for years and has earned many flowers from being behind the camera of globally successful films and music videos including Wizkid’s Essence and Beyoncé Black is King. KC has been able to capture the heart of the film and it was easy to tell that this story was one personal to him.
At the screening of Over the Bridge at AFRIFF, Obiajulu mentioned that he had complete creative control and was able to do what he wanted to do. The result of this freedom afforded him by the film director would not only be a gift for KC but whoever gets to watch Over the Bridge.
While art and symbolism were tools depicting the physiological weight of the film, they were also employed to lighten the toll this weight takes on the viewer. Language was one specific tool in this regard. Just when a tragic event occurs, the story takes a light detour when the viewer expects that things will get worse. Through the lyrical and eclectic Ijebu dialect of Yoruba, the viewer could feel the grace and sympathy that Folarin had been in desperate need of. The same language would also be the vehicle guiding Folarin down his path to certain answers and eventual healing.
Another outstanding device is the philosophy of redemption and of promise. This premise is crucial in its relatability. We all make promises and sometimes fail to keep them. The validating high one experiences while making a promise is an enjoyable feeling. You make a promise when there’s no iota of doubt that it will change.
This is an egotistical trait many of us bear and a basic flaw of human nature. Egotistical because in the moment we forget our fundamental limitation of not knowing what the future holds. There is no certainty that the situation surrounding a promise made would remain the same in the next minute. Yet, we keep making more promises despite the many others we have failed to keep.
The philosophy of redemption on the other hand speaks to the fact that anyone can be saved and people deserve second chances. We see this in Folarin’s individual journey and that of his relationship with his wife Jumoke. This reminded me that as humans, we know we value a thing when we’re willing to risk anything in the faith that we won’t lose it. It doesn’t matter if this thing, person, or relationship has been troubled, we’d want to save it all the same.
Over the Bridge leads the viewer on the solemn triumph that accompanies the peace and pace of healing. It’s a journey not just for the characters, but one of certain freedom that the audience doesn't at first realize that they need. Just like lunging into the deep and emerging a slightly different person. Over the Bridge takes not just the actor deeper but the viewer as well.