This year, Nollywood shot for the sky with various recognitions including more appearances at international festivals, and Netflix deals. It has also been a year of various kingsize Ls issued to responsible parties. The drama did not take a break (at least not for long) and the excitement felt like fire in our veins.
Here is my list of the top happenings of the year. Enjoy!
The Academy Showed Lionheart the Window
For the most part of October, patriotic Nigerians shared the testimony of our first OSCAR submission. After years of looking for the best of the best, NOSC, a committee set up by filmmaker, Chineze Anyaene, submitted Genevieve Nnaji’s LionHeart to the Academy for the Best International Feature Film Category. To the utter shock of millions of Nigerians (some who suddenly paid attention simply to point fingers), the Academy threw out our submission because it violated the foreign language regulation. The movie was 90 percent in English. More surprising was the fact that the committee had uploaded a lengthy document on its website listing the Academy’s rules for submission.
As we tried to make sense of the treachery, the film’s writer, C J Obasi took to Twitter to reveal how the Lionheart script was written in Igbo.
Can you solve arithmetic problems?
Ndani TV’s L with Oga Pastor
On the 4th of July, Ndani TV deleted all traces (trailer inclusive) of the Daniel Oriahi directed web series, Oga Pastor. The series unfortunately premiered during the period when a popular Abuja based Pastor was facing accusations of sexual harassment and misuse of religious authority. A bit of the Uzor Arukwe led series that aired showed an uncanny resemblance to the then ongoing scandal.
Ndani’s L wasn’t so much about its thief in the night modus operandi. It was the fact that they probably sacked their corporate comms guy leaving the job of writing press releases to the whims and caprices of an already exhausted assistant Oga who I heard wasn’t given a chance to defend the position of Art and its ability to influence change. As you might have already guessed, the press release did not see the light of day. In all honesty, Oga Pastor isn’t the first snake in the monkey shadow stunt by Ndani. The same thing happened with Gidi Up season 2. Rumours bit our ears like this angry Lagos harmattan as we sought to hear from the Horse’s mouth. Sadly fellas, the horse died.
Adewale Akinnuoye’s Taste of the ‘Eko Judas’ Pie
Adewale Akinnuoye’s directorial debut was a colossal flop in the Nigerian box office. One of the biggest reasons Farming didn’t do so well was the fact that it was highly unrelatable to our audience. Only the IJGBs who unfortunately weren’t back at the time didn’t need Google to understand the history of Skinheads. That coupled with the heavily accented dialogues and the fact that those who googled discovered a number of discrepancies with the movie’s portrayal of the notorious gang. The film’s Nigerian distributor and associates also did not read Baba the actual memo detailing the odds. The premiere was lit! He arrived in an armoured car, fashionably later than the 6:00 pm scheduled time then insisted on a heart to heart after the movie screened. The love that Chale was shown! Unfortunately, all that “this is an enlightening .. blah blah blah” didn’t translate to box office love. The fact that Critics liked its message and delivery didn’t do much good either. Unlike Jesus, Akinnouye wasn’t so forgiving. He proceeded to embark on a Twitter blocking spree.
All Hail Netflix NG, the new Digital Alaba Market!
This year saw a mighty inflow of Nollywood movies on the popular streaming platform, Netflix. Good news by most of the standards especially as it makes room for a wider audience. Some standards, however, got overlooked. One would have expected that the negotiators ( can’t mention names) would push for the very best of Nollywood content. I can vouch for some but the others?
Nollywood at International Festivals
With appearances at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), BFI London Film Festival, Carthage Film Festival, the year unarguably rose to sky limits for Abba Makama‘s The Lost Okoroshi , Funmi Iyanda’s Walking with Shadows and Mo Abudu‘s Oloture.
The Filmmakers Vs Critics led Twitter War
2019 was a year of enlightenment. We experienced a series of Twitter showdowns starring the likes of Niyi Akinmolayan, Naz Onwuzo, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Molara Wood as principle warlords.
Filmmakers primarily got tired of getting shitty feedback from the I Too Knows and fired back. Some tried to get intellectual with their outbursts, resorting to the use of complicated grammar while some went full-blown mud fight. The coming year interestingly holds a peacemaking opportunity with a scheduled panel session at the Lagos Social Media Week. The session will see a robust conversation between Nollywood filmmakers and critics.
Best Films of 2019
In no intentional order, here are my top 10 best movies of 2019. Most of the movies did not get the box office love but, they told beautiful stories, explored visual effects, and impressive cinematography.
- Living in Bondage Breaking Free
- Sugar Rush
- Delivery Boy
- The Ghost and the House of Truth
- Coming from Insanity
- Walking with Shadows
- Gold Statue
- Elevator Baby
- Three Thieves
Worst Films of 2019
Despite the high hopes that their trailers sold, these movies fell horribly short of expectations.
- The Herbert Macaulay Affair
- Makete Must Sell
- The Reunion
- Cold Feet
Ultimately, 2019 remains a great learning curve that we must all study. The coming year is filled with promising opportunities for Nollywood to flourish.