In 2019, Nollywood delivered, especially in the diversity of stories. The year had a political thriller (4th Republic), a blockbuster horror flick (Living in Bondage), a blockbuster action-comedy (Merry Men 2), historical dramas (1929, The Herbert Macaulay Affair). We also got a fair share of our lovely romantic comedies. There was something for everyone.
The year also ushered in new, exciting voices: Akay Mason became Nollywood youngest director ever with Elevator Baby, Akinyemi Sebastian Akinropo debuted with Coming from Insanity, an ambitious but flawed crime thriller.
The industry also enjoyed some international acclaim: Adesua Etomi adorned the cover of Vogue magazine in a celebration of global female talents in film. Our films also featured in some of the revered global film festivals—Abba Makama’s The Lost Okoroshi (BFI and TIFF), Mike Omonua’s The Man Who Cut Tattoos (BFI). 2019 was also the year Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart started streaming on Netflix. Did I mention Mo Abudu locking three TV deals with Sony? Or CJ Obasi, Nnaji, and Abudu signing with Hollywood talent agencies?
With 2019 being such a fantastic year for the industry, it is only reasonable to expect more madness this year. In this post, we have curated some of the most anticipated Nollywood movies coming out in 2020, movies that should cause a stir and maybe push the boundaries of our storytelling.
The list includes a hotly anticipated sequel, an African film noir, a directorial debut from one of Nollywood’s best screenwriters, and sophomore effort everyone says is going to blow our minds!
La Femme Anjola
What will neo-noir look like if given some Nigerian flavor? That is a question Mildred Okwo’s star-studded La Femme Anjola is going to answer. The film, Okwo’s first since 2016’s Suru L’ere, is “a psychological-thriller film noir” that follows a young stockbroker whose life is disrupted when he falls for Anjola, the wife of a wealthy, brutal gangster.
Anjola, played by Nollywood veteran Rita Dominic, is a classic femme fatale, and you can get a glimpse of her in the short teaser below.
Director: Mildred Okwo.
Cast: Rita Dominic, Femi Jacobs, Nonso Bassey.
Badamasi (The Portrait of a General)
Nigerian Twitter went into a frenzy when Obi Emelonye released the trailer for Badamasi, an epic political thriller that examines the pivotal parts of General Ibrahim Babangida’s life. The biopic tells Babangida’s childhood story, his involvement in the Biafran War, and the annulment of the 1993 presidential elections.
A flawed Army General attempts to guide an impossible African country through a viciously strained era in this first of its kind, authorized biopic, based on real events.
Expectedly, there are concerns the film might be a whitewashing of the General’s actions, considering IBB authorized it.
Director: Obi Emelonye.
Cast: Enyinna Nwigwe, Sani Danja, Yakubu Mohammed, Okey Bakassi, Julius Agwu, and Kalu Ikeagwu.
Oloture is a 360 u-turn from Ebonylife Films, the Mo Abudu’s film company has made a name telling merry stories, here the topic—human trafficking and modern slavery—is distressing.
Òlòtūré is the story of a young, naïve Nigerian journalist who goes undercover to expose the shady underworld of human trafficking. Unused to this brutal environment, crawling with ruthless traders and pimps, Òlòtūré finds warmth and friendship with Blessing, Linda, and Beauty, the prostitutes she lives with. However, she gets drawn into their lifestyle and finds it difficult to cope. In her quest to uncover the truth, she pays the ultimate price – one that takes her to the verge of no return.
Director: Kenneth Gyang.
Cast: Sharon Ooja, Omowunmi Dada, Omoni Oboli, and Blossom Chukwujekwu.
Jade Osiberu’s debut Isoken was an instant classic, so when she announced her sophomore feature, it became one of the films to anticipate this year. The crime-drama follows Dike Maduka, aka Eric, a notorious kidnapper who has escaped the authorities for two decades and is the target of a high-stake investigation led by superintendent Khalid Abubakar, a rising star in the intelligence agency.
Osiberu, in an Instagram post, says Chukwujekwu delivered the performance of his life as the film’s lead.
Director: Jade Osiberu.
Cast: Blossom Chukwujekwu, Gideon Okeke, and Rita Dominic.
Milkmaid centers on the effects of the military insurgency in Northern-Nigerian through the eyes of two Fulani sisters. While tackling such a topic, the film (at least from the trailer) showcases the beauty and elegance of the Fulani culture through Yinka Edward’s cinematography and Pat Nebo’s art direction. With the film’s dialogue mostly in Fulani, itcould be a frontrunner for Nigeria’s Oscar 2021 selection.
In rural sub-Saharan Africa, Aisha, a Fulani Milkmaid, is searching for her younger sister, Zainab. Dire personal circumstances force her to approach the religious militants who were responsible for their separation in the first instance, but she is determined to find her despite the compromises she must make to do so.
Director: Desmond Ovbiagele.
Cast: Maryam Booth, Anthonieta Kalunta, Gambo Usman Kona.
King of boys 2
Kemi Adetiba is taking us back into Eniola Salami’s world; the film is currently in preproduction and the director has confirmed it’s coming our this year. Adetiba has continuously teased the return of Reminisce’s Makanaki, who was never confirmed dead in the first film. Also, Mrs. Salami has a few political scores to settle, so there is plenty of revenge look out for.
Director: Kemi Adetiba.
Cast: Sola Sobowale, Reminisce, Akin Lewis, and Illbliss.
Ratnik was supposed to open in November 2019, but the schedules were unfavorable— it would have been buried under the shadow of Ramsey Nouah’s Living in Bondage: Breaking Free. It is a Nigerian dystopian action film that does not look amateurish. Lead actor Bolanle Ninalowo calls it “Hollywood in Nollywood”.
Director: Dimeji Ajibola.
Cast: Meg Otanwa, Osas Ighodaro Ajibade, Tope Tedela, and Bolanle Ninalowo.
The Lost Okoroshi
The Lost Okoroshi is the follow-up to Abba Makama’s stellar debut, Green White Green, and it is the more mainstream and refined of the director’s work. However, just like Makama’s debut, it is still very much eccentric.
The story follows Raymond (Seun Ajayi), a security guard (and something of a layabout) whose main preoccupations are checking out women and figuring out how to escape the bustle of Lagos in favor of the more relaxed countryside. (Read Review)
The Lost Okoroshi is an excellent satire on the disconnect between the modern Nigerian and traditional practices. The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), BFI London Film Festival, and the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) last year.
Director: Abba Makama.
Cast: Seun Ajayi, Tope Tedela, Ifu Ennada, and Judith Audu.
Who’s The Boss
The directorial debut of Naz Onuzo, screenwriter of critically acclaimed films such as Up North, The Arbitration, and The Set Up. The film follows Liah, an overlooked Ad Agency who invents a boss for her startup Ad Agency to hide it from her hard-to-please boss, Hauwa Sowole.
Director: Naz Onuzo.
Cast: Sharon Ooja, Funke Akindele, Segun Arinze, and Blossom Chukwujekwu.