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The Most Anticipated Nigerian Movies of 2019

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most anticipated Nigerian movies of 2019

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2018 was an interesting year for Nollywood; the first and second quarter of the year saw the release of several disappointing movies. However, towards the end of the year, starting with Kemi Adetiba’s epic King of Boys, we saw some films we were all proud of.

But it was in December that Nollywood truly came to life; there was the star-studded Chief Daddy, the superbly-directed Knock Out Blessing, the socially conscious Power of 1, Genevieve’s feel-good Lionheart, and the visually pleasing faith-based drama, God Calling.

Moses Inwang’s ‘Merry Men 2’ is Coming to Netflix

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Moses Inwang’s Merry Men 2 is Coming to Netflix

Moses Inwang’s Merry Men 2 is coming to Netflix, according to producer Ayo ‘Ay’ Makun. “Just because you asked for it, Merry Men 2 is on a mission to take over Netflix. Release date coming soon,” he writes.

 

The action-comedy picks up from its prequel—Merry Men: Real Yoruba Demons—after helping the authorities catch corrupt politician Dame Maduka, the charming foursome have left their old ways of robbing and scheming rich women.

Naz, now married, is prepping for fatherhood. Ayo is looking forward to forever with his law enforcement fiancée, Dera. But not so much has changed with Amaju and Remi, who are still basking in the freedom of bachelorhood. While on holiday, enjoying their new lives, ghosts from the past visit them.

Anthony Kehinde Joseph returns as screenwriter, and his screenplay is more engaging than the prequel’s—the reoccurring themes of a hunted past inject a much-needed emotional core to the franchise. Inwang brings Fast and Furious filmmaking style (on Naija budget and technical knowhow), and the result, while not great, is much a better film.

Merry Men 2 features more vital female characters with the addition of Linda Osifo, Ufuoma McDermott, Regina Daniels, and Nancy Isime. Returning cast includes Ayo Makun, Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana, Ireti Doyle, Jim Iyke, Damilola Adegbite, and Ramsey Nouah.

 

‘Light in the Dark’ starring Rita Dominic is coming to Netflix

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‘Light in the Dark’ starring Rita Dominic is coming to Netflix

Ekene Som Mekwunye’s poignant drama, Light in the Dark, is coming to Netflix.

KUNLE AFOLAYAN ON CITATION, NETFLIX, AND THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICAN CINEMA. (PART 2)

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KUNLE AFOLAYAN ON CITATION, NETFLIX, AND THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICAN CINEMA. (PART 2)

Below is the concluding part of our interview with Kunle Afolayan; here, he talks about African cinema and expands on his relationship with Netflix.

Kunle Afolayan on Citation, Netflix, and the role of technology in African Cinema. (Part 1)

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KUNLE AFOLAYAN ON CITATION, NETFLIX, AND THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICAN CINEMA.

Award-winning Nollywood filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, in a Q&A session with the famous camera brand, Canon, discussed the importance of technology and digital streaming platforms to African cinema and how they have helped our films travel.

Also, I spoke with him about his upcoming #SexForGrade drama, Citation. The film follows Moremi, a female post-graduate student, who must find a way of dealing with constant sexual harassment from a popular lecturer, Professor Lucien N’Dyare.

Fashion blogger and designer, Temi Otedola, makes her film debut as the lead character, Moremi. Otedola’s innocent looks and ability to speak multiple languages was key to casting her. “It is rare to get an actress who is innocent-looking and speaks French and English in Nigeria,” Afolayan says over the phone.

Citation was shot on locations in Nigeria, Cape Verde, and Senegal, but it was “supposed to be a small story, shot in one university in Nigeria,” Afolayan says. But on realizing the film’s potential, he decided to make it bigger. Below he talks more about the film, Temi Otedola, and Nollywood’s growth since The Figurine.

How did you get into the film industry?

I was born and raised in Lagos. I’ve always had a great appreciation for amazing stories and films because, as a child, it was all around me. My father, Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan, was a famous theatre and film director; he was also a producer, so film is in my blood. After secondary school, I attended the Lagos State Polytechnic, where I obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business Administration and Management.

Afterward, I worked in a bank, but that wasn’t my true passion, I always wanted to work in the film industry. So I took the leap of faith in 2004 when I resigned to pursue my passion for filmmaking. In the same year, I enrolled at the New York Film Academy, which is where it all began.

Can you tell us about your work to date and your style?

I try to be as original as possible, telling stories that are close to me and that I truly understand. Yes, I am a director, and I can turn my hand to many different productions, but when it comes to storytelling, I am deeply rooted in my environment, I draw a lot of inspiration from my roots. For genuine and meaningful productions, authenticity is essential.

An important goal of mine is not only to tell great Nigerian and African stories but to share them with the rest of the world. Stories about people are universal, and if produced well, anyone can understand them.

For example, my latest film, Citation, has a story I believe will resonate far and wide. It is about a young woman in university who is being groomed by her lecturers in return for better grades, a topical subject in Nigeria, and something I believe happens across the world but isn’t discussed. The benefit of independent production companies is that they are less scared to tell hard-hitting stories, so there’s a lot of grit and emotion to them.

What inspired Citation?

The subject matter, which is #SexForGrade, is something that has been in existence for so long, maybe before some of us were born. But it has become rampant and uncontrollable in recent times. I approached Ford Foundation for a different project; I think it was Mokalik that I pitched to them, and they said their focus then was on sexual assault, that if I had anything in that area I should come back to them.

Then I reached out to Tunde Babalola (October 1, Mokalik) with a few ideas in my head to see what he can put down that covers that area. Then he did a treatment, which I submitted to Ford; they liked it and decided to partner with us.

But at the time Ford showed interest, it was just a one-theme story idea, so I told them we had to develop the entire script. I realized it had to be done well, and it was during this period the BBC released its #SexForGrade documentary. Citation was supposed to be a small story, shot in one university in Nigeria, but I felt I shouldn’t restrict its potential, and decided to make it bigger.

What prompted the decision to cast Temi Otedola, a newcomer, in such an important and potentially iconic role?

I started talking to Teni before the first draft of the script was written. When I realized the film was going to be multilingual – predominantly French, English, and Yoruba – I asked her what language she could speak. She said she speaks French and English but can’t speak Yoruba, and it is rare to get an actress who is innocent-looking and speaks French and English in Nigeria. These were some of the qualities I saw.

I gave her a monologue to do, which she did well, and I just felt she was the one. Also, I like using new faces and bringing up new talents. When she did that monologue – which I will release later – I was wholly convinced that she was suitable for the role, and I had to groom her for about seven to eight months before shoot.

Then when I put the cast together, I put her in touch with Gabriel [Afolayan], who played her boyfriend, to teach her Yoruba. I also put her in touch with Jimmy Jean-Louis, who played the professor so that they could rehearse in French, and I saw the dedication. She’s got quality, and being a newbie doesn’t mean you can’t deliver what an established actor will deliver.

How much has Nollywood grown since The Figurine?

That was 11 years back. I think Nollywood has grown because when I made that film, you could hardly find any Nigerian movie that matched it technically. But people have improved in terms of technical quality, which is why Netflix is taking some of our films, even though there are some films I don’t think are worthy, but they need to build a catalog that caters to different audiences. Some people like slapstick comedy, they don’t want to see anything serious, they just want to sit down and laugh.

I think the quality overall has improved, look at 93 days, for instance. Now people pay more attention to the technical details, and I think, for that reason, we have upgraded.

The concluding part of the interview – where Afolayan talks about African cinema, Netflix, and how his films got on the streamer – comes out on Sunday. To get it first, subscribe to our newsletter below.

 

South Africa’s ‘Jiva!’ is Netflix’s Next African Original Series

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South Africa’s ‘Jiva!’ is Netflix’s Next African Original Series

Netflix has confirmed his next African Original series, Jiva!, a dance drama led by South African dancer and actor, Nixolo Dlamini. This announcement is coming after the streaming giant announced it had renewed Queen Sono, its first Africa Original series, for a second season.

This is a moment in time for the African narrative. This is just going to show you just how incredible we are.

Jiva! follows Ntombi, a talented street dancer, who while juggling family duties, a dead-end job, and a rocky relationship, realizes dancing is her only escape out of her working-class neighborhood. To succeed, she must fix her family issues, beat her rivals, and overcome her fears.

Jiva! is a local slang which loosely means “the physical interpretation of music.”

Dlamini, who plays Ntombi, is supported by Sne Mbatha, Stella Dlangalala, Candice Modiselle, and Tony Kgoroge. Cape Town-based production outfit, Blue Ice Africa, is producing the show, which is co-directed by Mandla Dube (Kalushi), Mmambatho Montsho, and Scottnes L. Smith, who directed the dance drama, Hear Me Love.

Watch a preview of Jiva! below.

 

Toni Tones is a Crazy Wife in the Trailer for Kayode Kasum’s ‘Killing Jade’

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Toni Tones is a Crazy Wife in the Trailer for Kayode Kasum’s ‘Killing Jade’

Kayode Kasum has released the trailer for Killing Jade, a film he shot in 2018 starring Toni Tones and Tope Tedela as a couple. The film explores domestic abuse, but from the woman—a typical case of the abused making excuses for his abuser despite warnings from friends.

Tedela plays a Kolapo Campbell, who’s trying to land a government contract, but his bipolar wife suspects he is having an affair with a childhood friend turned business partner. But despite pleas from his friends to leave the marriage, he refuses.

Killing Jade is shot in black and white, and looks both eerie and sumptuous. The trailer features Tones looking characteristically fiery and sassy.

Killing Jade, produced by Tedela and Kasum, stars Paul Utomi, Okey Uzoeshi, Gregory Ojefua, and Nkem Marchie.

According to Kasum, Killing Jade will be coming to your TV screens soon.

 

A Review of Omoni Oboli’s Feminist Political Drama ‘Love is War’

Review of Omoni Oboli’s Feminist Political Drama ‘Love is War’

Winning a gubernatorial election in Nigeria is tough, but for an honest person like Hankuri Philips, the lead character in Omoni Oboli’s Love is War (now streaming on Netflix), there are higher odds of a camel passing through the proverbial needle’s eye. Hankuri (played by Oboli) is contesting the top seat in Ondo state, but there is a little problem, she is from Niger. More problems: Her only opponent is her husband, Dimeji Phillips (Richard Mofe-Damijo), a medical doctor and Ondo’s favorite son. This premise is promising, but the execution — in writing and directing — falls short.

The script is from Naz Onuzo, who has a thing for intricate storylines, exciting ideas that come out problematic (The Arbitration) or messy (Out of Luck). An exception in his oeuvre is the remarkable The Set Up, a plot-driven screenplay Niyi Akinmolayan (Chief Daddy) engineered into a smart ride. Onuzo’s latest, Love is War, is billed as a dramedy, but its true potential lies as a political thriller.

The film journeys through the muddy waters of Nigeria’s politics with a feminist lens. Hankuri has been handpicked by the President to run for Governor under the PPM party. She starts her campaign by lobbying support from essential party members, but the men all seek her submission: In one scene, the incumbent Governor of Ondo (Akin Lewis) demands she and a female senator bow to greet him. Hankuri is not the submissive type, but she quickly learns the game of politics. When Otunba (Jide Kosoko), one of her party’s big players, demands excessively, she connives with a bigger power — the incumbent Governor — to sideline him. Nipped by this, Otunba invents a diabolical plan to get back at Mrs. Phillips and his former party — he conspires with the opposition to tempt her husband into running against her. If Dimeji declines, the narrative will be that Hankuri is a selfish, power-hungry woman who won’t let her husband shine. If he accepts, he risks going to war with the love of his life. Either way, the couple suffers.

After consulting with his wife, Dimeji agrees to contest against her, but there’s a twist: He isn’t going to campaign, he will be her Trojan horse. But what the naïve couple failed to realize is that in Nigerian politics the party wins the election, not the candidate. As their campaigns heat up, Dimeji is forced into a bitter battle with his wife. His party and the media chip at his ego regularly. He starts to feel lesser than her, and during an argument, he tells her, “certainly I’m allowed to maintain my dignity,” and walks out — from her presence and their friendly pact.

The most vital aspect of Love is War is its feminist undertone, both domestically and politically. There are not many films — in Hollywood and Nollywood — with ambitious women pursuing or holding powerful political positions. Lately, Nollywood has been correcting this problem. In 4th Republic, Kate Henshaw plays an upstanding woman running for Governor against a corrupt, misogynistic man who proposed marriage because her ‘stubbornness’ turns him on. King of Boys’ Eniola Salami lords over men. Love is War follows this trend with a feminist character that is ambitious, tender, and ruthless without coming off as crazy. When her husband and his team start playing foul, she tells her camp, “I want to crush him,” and then she justifiably goes on the offensive.

However, unlike its lead character and the two films mentioned above, Love is War doesn’t raise the stakes when its story demands. After Mrs. Phillips’s statement above, riots are purported to have followed, but the portrayal is lacking. Another surprising half-baked directorial decision is setting up minimalist campaign scenes. Campaign rallies in Nigeria are a grand affair; stadiums are filled, roads are shut. But what the film presents is best put as a parody. Oboil’s acting during the campaign trail also suffers — the charisma of a Nigerian politician is sorely missing. Mofe-Damijo is better in similar scenes, but even his performance is far from brilliant. It is the veterans, Lewis and Kosoko, who embody their politician roles expertly.

Love is War triumphs on its apt portrayal of Nigerian politics and the timeliness of its story, but the inconsistencies in performances and directing make it an average Nollywood drama when it could have been a terrific political thriller with a strong, feminist lead character. On a few occasions, the stage is set for more, but on all of them, Oboli succumbs to the challenge. There has always been a question mark over her directing abilities, but never in any movie have they seem this inadequate.

Watch the first teaser for Taiwo Ogunjobi’s ‘In Ibadan’

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In Ibadan teaser

Centrestage Production and ContentDocks have released the first teaser for their upcoming romantic drama, In Ibadan.

The film is the feature debut of Taiwo Egunjobi, who has made several short films including Don’t be a Nollywood Stereotype and Kalika. With In Ibadan, he “exquisitely designs his romantic vision of the ancient city of Ibadan, transforming a breakup tale into an intimate portrait of two lovers.”

The film follows ex-lovers, Ewa and Obafemi, who have not been in touch with each other since the former left Ibadan. Ewa’s unexpected return to the city sparks old flames.

In Ibadan stars Goodness Emmanuel, Temi Fosudo, Babatunde Aderinoye, Sola Fosudo, Chris Anyanya, Similoju Olatunji. It is written by Isaac Ayodeji.

The film is currently in post-production, no news on its release date, but it is another feature to look forward to post-lockdown.

Mercy and Ike: BB Naija Lovebirds set to premiere Reality Show

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Mercy and Ike BB Naija pepper dem couple debut reality tv show

Big Brother Naija: Pepper Dem Edition couple, Mercy Eke and Steve Ikechukwu Onyeama, are set to premiere their reality TV show this Sunday, April 26, 2020.

The show aptly titled Mercy & Ike is a first-of-its-kind Big Brother spinoff; it follows the couple’s lives after their stay in the house—giving fans an exclusive peek into their relationship.

Mercy and Ike‘s relationship after Big Brother and their struggle to solidify their commitment to each other. Mercy’s sister Promise is the thorn in Ike’s journey to win Mercy’s heart.

Mercy & Ike promise to reveal the tears behind the glitz and glamour that has adorned the former BB Naija housemates’ on-and-off relationship.

“Love is a battle. Love is war; Love is growing up,” Eke shares while promoting the show. “True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life meaning. Love means not only needing someone to complete you; it also means someone to accept you completely. True love is not afraid to show weakness.”

We can’t wait to see this love she talks about passionately.

Watch the teaser below.

Omoni Oboli’s “Love is War” is Coming to Netflix.

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Review of Omoni Oboli’s Feminist Political Drama ‘Love is War’

Omoni Oboli’s feminist political drama, Love is War, is joining The Set Up as Netflix’s Nollywood lockdown offerings. The drama, a joint production between Oboli’s Dioni Visions and Inkblot Productions, stars Oboli and Richard Mofe-Damijo as a couple battling for the Ondo state governorship seat.

An adorable couple elects to test the strength of their relationship when they run against each other for the office of state governor.

Written by Inkblot Production co-founder, Chinaza Onuzo (Up North, New Money), the story follows Hankuri and Dimeji Phillips, a lovely couple who are forced to contest a gubernatorial election against each other. Hankuri, an upstanding woman, has been handpicked by the president to represent his party, but after a fight with a top party member, Otunba, her campaign takes a diabolical twist.

Love is War starts playing on Netflix from April 29, 2020. The film stars Akin Lewis, Femi Branch, Toke Makinwa, Yemi Blaq, Jide Kosoko, and Shaffy Bello.

Watch Love is War on Netflix.

Niyi Akinmolayan’s ‘The Set Up’ now streaming on Netflix

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Niyi Akinmolayan’s ‘The Set Up’ now streaming on Netflix

Months after its theatrical release, Niyi AKinmolayan’s The Set Up is now available globally via Netflix. The film, a crime story with themes of revenge, child abuse, and social injustice, is a suspense-filled drama with a plotty plot.

Manipulation and personal vendetta collide when a con artist hires a young woman to assist in a scheme to marry a wealthy heiress.

Written by film executive, Naz Onuzo, The Set Up follows Chike and Grace from their abusive childhood to their drug-dealing days. After helping them escape arrest, a shady businesswoman, Madame, recruits them as soldiers for her personal and business battles.

The story kicks off when a socialite approaches Chike to aid him to marry a wealthy heiress. However, there’s more to the scheme than meets the eyes.

The film was well-received by critics. Oris Aigbokhaevbolo called it a smart Nollywood ride and praised its screenplay: “One reason for the uniform competence of the acting is that the film’s very plotty plot is its true star.”

Wilfred Okichie, writing for Ynaija, named it one of the best films of 2019. “Blending action, suspense, and thriller elements in a noir-adjacent atmosphere, The Set Up has a lot going on—perhaps too much—but it is thoroughly engaging and roars to a thrilling finish.”

The film stars Onuzo and Akinmolayan’s muse, Adesua Etomi, in a lead role. Other cast members include Joke Silva, Tina Mba, Dakore Akande, Kehinde Bankole, Jim Iyke, and Ayoola Ayolola.

You can watch The Set Up on Netflix. 

 

Kayode Kasum’s ‘Oga Bolaji’ now Streaming on Youtube

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Sugar Rush director Kayode Kasum has uploaded his well-received sophomore, Oga Bolaji, on his Youtube page. The film, which follows the titular Oga Bolaji, a 40-year-old unemployed still living with his mother, tells a tale about the “resilience and ingenuity of the Nigerian spirit; the way we live, our pain and our limitations, and our desire to still strive, hope and dream.”

Oga Bolaji is a story that is centered around the simple happy-go-lucky life of a 40-year-old retired musician (Gold Ikponmosa). His life takes a drastic turn when he crosses paths with a seven-year-old girl, which could lead to the worst or best days of his life.

The film was released to mostly positive reviews. Writing for Africa is a Country, film scholar Noah Tsika described Oga Bolaji as a “breath of fresh air—both a throwback to such Nigerian classics as Amaka Igwe’s Rattlesnake and Tade Ogidan’s Owo Blow and emblematic of the new Nollywood style of immaculate widescreen cinematography.”

Precious Nwogu, writing for Mamazeus, praised it for its subject: “Watching this movie might be the best or only way to understand the harsh realities of life for the zero-income earners living in this big city of dreams.”

The film was produced by Mayowa Bakare and stars Omowunmi Dada, Idowu Philips, Gregory Ojefua, and child actor, Jasmine Fakunle.

This year, Kasum will follow his mainstream debut, Sugar Rush, with the FilmOne produced Kambili, a romantic comedy starring Nancy Isime, Swanky JKA, and Mawuli Gavor, and Fate of Alakada, the star-studded latest episode of Alakada series.

Watch Oga Bolaji below.