For many, family is not just important; it is everything. They are the first people with whom we share our hopes, dreams, successes, and failures. The presence of a father, mother, wife, husband, son, or daughter gives us an intimate sense of warmth and belonging—the feeling that we are not alone in the world.
But what happens when they all depart from this world and we do happen to be all alone? Will one join them through death in despair? Or should we expect a miracle—an unexpected ‘breath of life’—that gives a sense of renewed hope and redemption?
These questions formed the protagonist’s journey, Timi (Wale Ojo), in the newly premiered historical drama, “Breath of Life.”
Directed by BB Sasore and produced by actress Eku Edewor, we see Timi as a sad, wealthy man struggling with despair after losing his family. However, through his house manager, Elijah (Chimezie Imo), he finds happiness and renewed purpose.
The story of these two men is not complete without the supporting leads, Anna and Bridget. Rising Nollywood star Genoveva Umeh plays Anna, a wealthy and adventurous girl who is Elijah’s love interest. The producer and supporting lead actress, Eku Edewor, takes on the role of Timi’s wife, Bridget.
I sat with Eku and Genoveva for a brief discussion, and they offered their perspectives on the movie’s key themes—grief, faith, love, and renewed hope—explaining how each plays a significant role in the film’s narrative. They also gave me insights about some exciting moments for them behind the scenes. Better watch out for spoiler alerts!
Grief and its technicalities
There is a popular saying that says, “No pain, no gain.” For Timi, the glory of redemption would be non-existent without the fundamental pain of his family’s grief and loss—emotions that the violent deaths of Bridget and Timi’s daughter (Alison) helped establish.
For Eku, filming the tough scene was emotionally challenging because her real daughter and Melie, the daughter in the movie, became close friends while making the film.
“I’m not the type of person that imagines horrible stuff to get through a scene, but I couldn’t help but imagine my daughter dying. How would I keep my daughter calm and, in the same breath, know that I was saying goodbye to everything else?
But despite her fears, she managed to deliver an excellent performance by ‘detaching from the fears’ in such a way that it kept her calm and in control of the scene.
The role of faith in our everyday lives
The film, although not intended to be primarily ‘faith-based,’ highlights many markers of religion, including Timi’s previous role as a pastor and Elijah’s reopening of Timi’s church many years later.
When asked why, Eku stated the unique role faith in a higher deity plays in our everyday lives.
“As humans, we are led a lot by our desires for a better world and better circumstances for ourselves. This means that sometimes when we can’t get it our way, we put our faith in powers bigger than us to help us. Not just in the main tasks, but even in smaller ones like waking up every day.”
Eku also hinted that the story’s theme of faith intertwines closely with the recurring theme of love, stating that “God is love, and where you find God, you find love.”
Love and the professionalism behind on-screen romance
Not all of the film was deep and heavy. The love story between Anna and Elijah in the movie is really endearing. You might find yourself smirking at their cute first meeting in the church and maybe even blushing at their first kiss in Timi’s backyard. It’s a youthful and heartwarming romance that really pulls you in.
They were a couple who not only gave some ‘steamy scenes’ but also portrayed a unique depth in their love. They showed us what it truly means to be there for your significant other ‘in good times and in bad, in sickness and health.’ For Genoveva, having a great friendship with the lead actor, Chimezie Imo, was the secret behind the easy flow of their on-screen romance.
Genevova explained, “I’ve known him since 2016 as my first ever on-screen partner, and we met in Enugu while filming a series in a jungle. At the time, we acted as university students who liked each other and were on an adventure. We then went on to be friends.
Getting to the audition room and seeing him there, I felt safe. I felt like this was somebody I had known for a long time. He is receptive to ideas, and I can call and talk to him about ideas for a scene. He’s also a great listener; it was easy to feed off that experience. It was easy to talk to and work with him for performances.”
But if you think there’s a hint of “off-screen chemistry” to this romance, you need to perish that idea. “The dude is like my brother. That speaks to the professionalism he has right there,” she added.
The power of renewed hope
Who doesn’t love an underdog’s victory scene? No one. The movie’s final scenes helped Timi find a healthy resolution to his grief, but more importantly, they gave Elijah both the medical and financial capacity to chase his dreams and live a comfortable future – with Anna by his side. And this, for Genoveva, was one of the most essential parts of being Anna.
“Anna is a bold, adventurous girl, but there is empathy and emotional strength in her character that Elijah greatly needs. Without this, there might have been an emptiness in Elijah and not hope.”
Behind the scenes of ‘Breath of Life’
Ibadan was chosen because of both visual and time demands
Compared to Lagos, the city of Ibadan has hardly been affected by modernisation and commercial trade, maintaining “its old school charm,” which drew the cast and crew.
“However, it is only Nigerians who reside in the Southwest that will know this as Ibadan. In the film, it was made to be a nameless, universal, small town,” Eku implied.
In addition, it was more cost-effective to transport the team from Lagos to Ibadan, as opposed to other neighbouring states or Delta, which they were considering at some point. It also met the visual demands of the script in terms of its topography, the stunning beauty of the University of Ibadan, and many other considerations.
Most of the props used were from Eku’s family
From the shiny Rolls Royce to a vintage G.P. and J. Baker wallpaper from the 80s, most of the props were from sourced from Okechukwu Frost’s production team, as well as some of Eku’s family archives.
“Thanks to my mom, who is an interior designer, and my dad, who is a frequent traveller and collector, we were able to use props that had been accumulated over the years. Resourcefulness is one thing you need to have as a producer, and I’m glad my parents understood this.”
The Rolls Royce was flatbedded from Delta to Ibadan
Amazingly, the Rolls Royce we saw in the trailer doing stunning drifts wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t even working at all. A towing truck had to transport the vehicle from Delta to Ibadan.
According to Eku, “it even got held up halfway by customs officials, but we settled the matter. It even needed to be resprayed. I’m just grateful that my parents didn’t ‘flog’ me for the damage,” she jokingly added.
There was an incident where BB and Eku fought on set.
BB and Eku are usually best of friends, but there was an incident where they once fought on set.
According to Eku, “Me and BB worked together so much that it was inevitable that we’d fight because of our passion for the work. Every day, you’re up at 5 a.m., and you’re wondering whether everything is in alignment. There was a day on set that BB and I blasted the crap out of each other. I had to walk away, and they had to keep a soldier close to me to make sure ‘they still had eyes on Eku’. I just needed to cool off. I came back 10 minutes later, and we were talking like we were friends again.”
Genevova swam in a river and rode bicycles made by the production department
This, together with swimming for Genevova, were her unforgettable moments of both acting Anna as well as behind-the-scenes moments.
BB Sasore, the director, joined them to swim at a point, and her bicycles were made from welded steel poles from the production department, aka Eku!
In conclusion, this 2-hour-long drama is most assured to get you pondering the piety of the Christian faith, the endearing nature of true love, and the promise that despite the wicked plot twists of life, something (or someone) could always lead us to the light at the end of the tunnel.