Nigeria is famed for having the second largest movie industry after Bollywood in terms of market value. Nollywood, which is the nickname for the Nigerian movie industry was founded in the 1990’s, and since then has grown to become a behemoth movie industry worth several billion dollars. There are now more Nigerian movies produced every single year than any other film industry. The first Nigerian movies that marked the beginning of Nollywood as we know it were straight-to-video movies, the most notable of these being the 1992 movie, “Living in Bondage”. As Nigerian movies began to gain wider appeal across the African continent, the Caribbean, and with the Diaspora abroad, so they began to launch at the cinema first.
Nigerian movies are renowned for being hard-hitting, emotive and melodramatic. It is often claimed that because Nigerian movies are produced on a budget the fraction of the size of Hollywood movies, they therefore lack the depth and integrity of movies from Bollywood and Hollywood. However, as Nollywood continues to grow and investment from the government and private sector are bolstered, so the quality of Nigerian movies is expected to improve. Naija Viral is very proud of how far Nollwood has come over the last two decades, and to celebrate we are pleased to bring you our very best selection of Nigerian movies over the last 10 years.
Last flight to Abuja (2012)
This Nigerian movie is based on actual events. It is about a group of Nigerians who board the last Flamingo Airways flight flying from Lagos to Abuja on a Friday evening in 2006. Whilst at cruising altitude, the plane encounters a series of technical issues for which the pilots struggle to cope with. As the pilots grapple to maintain control of the plane, a series of flashbacks reveal the complexity of each of the passengers route to boarding the flight. An elderly couple, young lovers, a sportsman and some businessmen are all embroiled in the saga involving their final moments on this fateful flight. All… except one!
What does he know? The incredible thing about this Nigerian movie is that it was shot in only 14 days – a truly commendable effort by Director Obi Emelonye. Despite the limited time spent filming, Last Flight To Abuja still managed to draw larger crowds to cinemas in both Nigeria and Ghana than The Dark Knight Rises and other notable blockbusters which premiered during a similar timeframe.
Half of a Yellow Sun (2013)
This historical fiction drama is based on a book of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It follows the lives of two tiwn sisters who are caught up in the Biafrian War in the 1960’s. Olanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are the twins who come from an affluent Nigerian family. After being educated in England they return to Nigeria to begin their adult lives. Olanna surprised her family by going to live with her lover, the avant-garde professor Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the small university town of Nsukka. Kainene takes over the family business interests for which she becomes an adept businesswoman.
She ends up falling in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer. Initially consumed by their romantic lives and their incessant sibling rivalry, the country’s political climate does not form part of their agenda. However, as the war in Biafra begins to transcend a single region and becomes a Nigeria Civil War, so their attention shifts to the brutal violence that has now become hard to ignore.
This Nigerian movie tells the story of a single mother who raises her one son in a hopelessly poor environment. Blessed with a kind heart and sound mind, she is the centre of her son’s world. MAAMI and her son forge an incredibly close bond until one day he decides that he wants to learn more about the father he never had. Unfortunately his biological father has a terrible secret. Set over a two-day period in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup, MAAMI is an inspiring story of how one woman’s child rises up through the ranks to become a global football phenomenon playing for both Arsenal and the Super Eagles.
Phone Swap (2012)
Phone Swap is a comedy about Mary, a fashion designer, and Akin, her arrogant boss, who swap their phones by mistake in a busy airport. As a result of this faux pas they are now forced to carry out each other assignments. Phone Swap was shot in Lagos and and sponsored by Blackberry and Globocom. From inception of the movie script to completion of this Nigerian movie it took just over 2.5 years to make. Since launching at the box office, Phone Swap has been highly acclaimed and received a total of 4 African Academy Award nominations.
Weekend Getaway (2012)
This Nigerian movie is about a group of couples who all go for a weekend away at Le Meridien hotel to hangout and try and rekindle the romance in their relationships. Monalisa Chinda plays Yolanda, a “cougar” that spends the weekend with a toy-boy. Their relationship proves futile as she denigrates him for being financially inferior and for checking out other women. Angela and Segun (Beverly Naya and Bobby Obodo) are a couple looking reignite the spark that seems to have faded in their relationship. However, instead of doing this, they fight incessantly and denigrate each other for a variety of reasons.
Then there’s April (Genevieve Nnaji) who is on some kind of clandestine mission. She’s been sexting a blind date and they agree to meet at the hotel but she has other tricks up her sleeve. And finally, there is Dr. Mark (Ramsey Nouah) who runs into his ex-girlfriend at the hotel who is with her husband. He pretends he’s moved on and is married too. He gets his employee to play along as his wife and he’s unaware that she’s not just playing along, she really is in love with him. All in all this movie combines slapstick humour with romance to create a formidable romantic comedy that only a Nigerian movie could achieve.
Fifty follows the lives of four prominent Nigeria career women. Tola, Elizabeth, Maria and Kate are four friends forced at midlife to take stock of their personal lives, amidst turbulent careers and family life. They all live in the affluent Lagos suburbs of Ikoyi and Victoria Island and work in the bustling Lagos city centre. Tola is a reality TV star whose marriage to lawyer Kunle crumbled in the wake of an unpleasant family secret. Elizabeth is an obstetrician whose appetite for younger men has created a factuous relationship with hr daughter.
Maria has an affair with a married man that results in an unplanned pregnancy and Kate’s battle with a life-threatening illness has turned her to religion. This Nigerian movie is a frail yet profound journey of love and lust, power and prudence, life and loss in a twenty-first century Africa city. The movie comes alive to the pulsating beat of beautiful grooves of African Music.
October 1 (2014)
This Nigerian Movie is set during the period right before Nigeria’s independence in 1960. It focuses on a small town of Akote which, within a space of days is witness to a series of murders all committed with a similar pattern. A police detective, Inspector Danladi Waziri is sent to the town by European officials to resolve the case before the 1st of October. When he reaches the town he is met by Sergeant Sunday Afonja, who serves as his interpreter because of the inspector’s limited knowledge of the language of the town. A thorough investigation ensues and eventually the culprit is found by October 1st.
Based on the elite family background of the culprit, the European officials choose not to lay a charge against the individual and movie is then focussed on the morality, ethics and repercussions involved on this decision. This movie is very cleverly written, directed and portrayed by a group of proficient actors. October 1 covers issues of religion, race, tribalism, gender, politics and superstition, among several others. It achieves with a distinguished level of candour leaving the viewer well informed but still asking certain key questions. A must watch!
House of Gold (2015)
This Nigerian movie is about a business mogul and a socialite, Dan Ansah Williams who is dying of cancer and has been told that he has six weeks left to live. With the help of his long time associate and lawyer, he embarks on a mission to call all his children back home, most of whom were born out of wedlock and through adultery. The reunion proves to be a little more tumultuous than any of them would have expected, as each child brings with them their own set of problems and issues.
What ensues is a litany of infighting and arguing, much to the chagrin of Dan Ansah Williams. The movie has an all-star cast including, Majid Michel, Eddie Watson, Yvonne Nelson, Luckie Lawson, Umar Krupp, and Nigerian musicians Omawumi Megbele, Mercy Chinwo and Ice Prince Zamani.