Africa’s most decorated football player, Kanu Nwankwo has joined the ranks of global figures whose compelling stories have been immortalized on the silver screen (i.e. Pele, Muhammed Ali, Maradona and Mike Tyson). But Kanu takes it a notch further as his feature is to be released simultaneously with his biography, after the World Cup in South Africa. Kanu considers this movie and book to be his heartfelt gift to Nigeria on her fiftieth anniversary, to Africa and indeed the world. This was contained in statement made available to gistmaster today by James Amuta, the project publicist.
Titled Lion Heart: The Kanu Story, the movie is a documentary feature, directed by BBC London-trained Nigerian director Bayo Awolaja, and produced by Neil Oyenekan (Dragons Den Nigeria, Taking Sides, 2002, UK). The Executive Producers include Kanu Nwankwo, Lighthouse, IBST Media, Worldwide Management Ltd. and Connect Marketing. The movie is currently being filmed in Nigeria, London, Amsterdam, the USA, South Africa and India, and has a plot that chronicles Kanu’s inspiring rags to riches story from a unique perspective that delves into his journey into the world of soccer from his humble beginnings in Owerri, to his struggle with a near fatal heart condition at the peak of his football career, to his heart surgery in Cleveland, Ohio, and back to his tribulations and triumph at Arsenal, Ajax, Portsmouth etc. In addition to his exploits on the football pitch, the movie also unveils one of the most recognizable UNICEF ambassadors as a mentor, business man, husband, and friend. According to the Lighthouse Productions CCO, “ this film isn’t just about Kanu the footballer, we intend to reveal the Kanu story through interviews with all the world renowned players , coaches, administrators, including his wife, his child-hood friends, his doctors and those people that played very important roles in his life – it’s going to be a three dimensional documentation of Kanu’s story according to Kanu, his fans, and his critics too – it’s definitely going to be compelling and well –balanced, because we intend to highlight the challenges he’s encountered and how he overcame them, in order to inspire many young Africans with his exceptional story of hope, determination and success”
Explaining the plot a step further, the film director, who used to work with BBC Wales, added that “it’s not just about Kanu and his story, but Lion Heart: The Kanu Story is a film with a strong message that will greatly touch audiences across the globe, because despite the fact that his role as a great sportsman is emphasized, yet the salient themes in the movie revolve around determination, overcoming tribulations, triumphing over life-threatening obstacles and circumstances in life to soar to heights of iconic greatness”
Kanu expressed his excitement when he spoke about the project, saying, “I’m a very private person, but it has been a very interesting experience to watch my colleagues, team mates, coaches, doctors, fans, friends and family telling my story in a very passionate manner – this movie humbles me – I can see the aspects of my life that the world identifies with, and it’s not easy to open up your life to the world, but then it is very noble to do so in order to inspire those who wish to do the things you have done – at least so that they can see how you did it”
But why do we have to wait until after the World Cup to see this movie? And to this Kanu replied, “the producers have been working tirelessly for a very long time now, but I believe this World Cup should be part of the film, whether I play or not, I definitely want the experience to be part of the film…”
Lion Heart: The Kanu Story is scheduled for a global premiere in September, but so far the film parades an excellent cast of renowned footballers from some of the teams Kanu Nwankwo has played for, alongside coaches, and revered FIFA officials, all passionately telling the story of a true African icon in more than 4 languages.
An official movie trailer, posters, and snippets from the projects have been scheduled to be leaked to the media soon. Also, an interactive website is also in the works, and fans can participate in fun trivia for a chance to win a front row seat at the London premiere of the movie, with lots of other interesting goodies.