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A Complex Tale of Redemption: ‘Sista’ Offers an Engaging Narrative with Stellar Performances

This Nollywood movie shines brightly in the Nigerian film landscape, which is often criticized for its formulaic storytelling.
June 16, 2023
5:14 pm

Biodun Stephen’s Sista attempts to explore the themes of fatherhood, forgiveness, and the struggles faced by single mothers.


Sista, released in 2022 but now streaming on Amazon Prime, takes viewers on a journey through the intertwined lives of Sistá (Kehinde Bankole) and Folarin (Deyemi Okanlawon), skilfully portrayed by the talented cast. Biodun Stephen, the visionary behind the film, not only directs but also pens the script and produces the movie, highlighting her commitment to telling relatable stories.


Sista breaks away from the traditional Nollywood approach to flashbacks, opting for a fresh and unconventional narrative style that seamlessly transitions between the past and present.


The Nigerian film’s technical aspects reflect the growth of Nigerian cinema, with advancements in camera work, lighting, and sound elevating the overall visual experience. While the film may not boast the grandeur of aerial shots or elaborate visual effects, it successfully captures the essence of its characters and their respective journeys.


Bisola Aiyeola

At the heart of Sista lies a profound exploration of forgiveness and the consequences of irresponsibility. Folarin’s abandonment of Sistá and their child sets in motion a chain of events that forces the characters to confront their pasts and make life-altering decisions. The film raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of forgiveness, challenging viewers to reflect on whether absolution should be granted without the wrongdoer facing the consequences of their actions. This theme strikes a chord within Nigerian society, where notions of justice and redemption often clash.


The standout performance of Kehinde Bankole as Sistá adds depth and genuineness to the film. Bankole’s portrayal of a woman navigating the trials of single motherhood and the pursuit of a better life for her children is nuanced and compelling. She seamlessly transitions between a range of emotions, capturing the complexities of her character and making Sistá relatable and endearing. Bisola Aiyeola also delivers a noteworthy performance as Tiwalope, Folarin’s wife, infusing the story with empathy and compassion.


While Sista successfully embraces simplicity, there is room for improvement. The film misses an opportunity to fully explore the societal issue of women abandoned by their partners. The struggles of single motherhood, though briefly touched upon, could have been delved into more deeply, creating a more authentic and resonant portrayal. Nonetheless, Biodun Stephen’s attempt to shed light on this topic is commendable, and supporting the growth of Nollywood remains a patriotic duty for Nigerians.


Deyemi Okanlawon

The dialogue in Sista walks a delicate tightrope, occasionally straying into cringe-worthy and Westernized territory. Some exchanges feel disconnected from the authentic Nigerian experience that viewers often seek in homegrown cinema.


Additionally, the film occasionally suffers from pacing issues, with certain scenes and details that contribute little to the overall narrative. A more focused approach, trimming unnecessary elements, would have allowed for a more tightly woven and engaging story.


From the exciting dialogues to Kehinde Bankole’s heartfelt performance, Sista emerges as one of Nollywood’s hidden gems that demands to be watched. While it may not fully realize its potential and faces some shortcomings, Biodun Stephen’s film captivates audiences with its exploration of forgiveness, the struggles of single motherhood, and the quest for redemption.


The strength of Sista lies in its simplicity. Rather than inundating viewers with unnecessary narration or convoluted subplots, the film focuses on objectively telling the story, allowing the audience to form a deep emotional connection with the characters. The raw and authentic performances from the cast elevate the film, with Kehinde Bankole leading the charge with her remarkable portrayal of Sistá.


Bisola Aiyeola deserves recognition for her portrayal of Tiwalope, Folarin’s wife. Her performance adds depth to the narrative, enabling viewers to root for her character despite the complicated circumstances. The chemistry between the actors enhances the storytelling, pulling the audience deeper into the intricate web of relationships.


Kehinde Bankole

Beyond its engaging characters, Sista strikes a chord with viewers by delving into the universal theme of abandonment within families. It celebrates the relentless efforts of single mothers while shedding light on the societal flaw of absent fathers. Through Sistá’s journey, the film provides a glimpse into the struggles faced by countless women in Nigeria, reminding us of their resilience and strength.


Despite its shortcomings, Sista shines brightly in the Nigerian film landscape, which is often criticized for its formulaic storytelling. This thought-provoking and heartfelt cinematic experience deserves recognition as one of Nollywood’s hidden gems, thanks to its captivating performances and exploration of relevant themes.


Release Date: Theatrical release 5 August 2022

Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes

Streaming service: Prime Video

Director: Biodun Stephen

Cast:  Bisola Aiyeola, Kehinde Bankole, Deyemi Okanlawon, Adedamola Adewole, Chiamaka Uzokwe, Adeoluwa Akintoba, Blessing Jessica Obasi-Nze, Tope Olowoniyan, and Chimezie Imo

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