Transcending stereotypical themes that fuse traditional voodoo, witchcraft, urban romance and predictable story lines worsened by poor audio and video quality, a new generation of Nigerian Filmmakers are changing the game. The spectacular thing about storytelling in this generation of filmmakers is the thrill of relatable characters they create and the satirical comedy that these directors bring onto their films. Cities like Lagos and Kano now play active characters in films and somehow, filmmaking seems to be having a new definition in the media space.
Excitingly, Nigeria has a future she can be glad in: these filmmakers have created paths and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles of financing and quality. With little or no government support, the quality of their work reverberates in faraway cities of Toronto. Some of the most distinguished filmmakers forging this new generation are: Oluseyi Asurf, Niyi Akinmolayan, Judith Audu, Lowla Dee, Akin Omotosho, Ishaya Bako, Fiyin gambo and a host of others.
Intriguing is the pace-setting and tremendous work of Oluseyi Asurf. He directed the first ever crowd-funded film in Nigeria, “Hakkunde” which won the Best Film at Africa International Film Festival. Asurf’s philosophy of filmmaking is deeply profound. He chooses to tell stories in films just as they are in the Nigerian society. Whether or not they are against cultural norms, in so far as they exist, these stories should be told. This probably accounts for why his film, “Hell or High Water” gathered so much attention considering it dared to discuss homosexuality.
Conversations on trailblazers in the new Nollywood would be incomplete without mentioning Dolapo Adeleke popularly known as Lowla Dee. Just last year, her web series “This is it” received a staggering 300,000 views; the highest ever till date any web series in Nigeria has received. For the audience, the brilliant and seamless chemistry between the lead characters, Nick Mutuma and Chiagoziem Nwakama was the attraction. At 27, Lowla Dee is a recognized and influential figure in the Nollywood sphere capable of causing a paradigm shift in conversations across the country on any issue through her films.
Multi-award winning actress and filmmaker, Judith Audu is blazing the trail as well. Starring in “Just Not Married” that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, she represents more than just an Actress but a passion for change in the industry. Her efforts are part of the success story of the Hakkunde as she worked as a crew on the project.
Perhaps, the most exemplary and inspiring is 19-year old Fiyin Gambo. Fascinating is the huge investments and partnerships the teenager has garnered for a previously unexplored genre in African cinema. Just a few days ago, the Official Poster of his new film, Pursuit broke the internet and commanded the attention of big shots in the Nollywood industry. His belief in creating an ‘African Action’ genre speaks volumes about the future of African cinema.
More importantly, Nollywood’s rise represents a unique socio-cultural and economic moment. The new generation of Africans are forcing the world to see the continent in a different way. The world is seeing some positive out of the continent which will help attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment into the creative industry. For instance, The Wedding Party 2 Destination: Dubai is revealing to Nigerian creatives that the opportunity for partnerships are endless.
The multi billion dollar industry is pregnant with economic potentials that can change the fortunes of any nation if properly harnessed. The big question for the Nigerian government remains its preparedness to harness the potentials of the industry as a means of economic diversification and recovery.