Film

Okayafrica's Top 15 Films Of 2015

Okayafrica staff and contributors weigh in on 2015's best films from Africa and the diaspora.


It’s been a big year for film here at Okayafrica. We spent this December deep in reflection, hashing out our cinematic highlights from across Africa, the diaspora and, yes, even Hollywood.

2015 began with the Sundance premiere of a documentary on the ‘Father of African Cinema’ Ousmane Sembène. Rwandan filmmaker Kivu Ruhorahoza’s experimental masterpiece Things of the Aimless Wanderer also made its world debut in Park City.

In February, Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako’s Malian drama Timbuktu—one of our favorite films of 2014—was deemed the big winner at the French film industry’s Oscar equivalent, the César Awards. In May, Yared Zeleke’s Lamb became the first Ethiopian film to make it to Cannes as an official selection. Five of the UK’s leading film festivals paid homage to African love stories throughout October and November, like the 2014 Kenyan LGBT anthology Stories of Our Lives.

Selma director Ava DuVernay advanced her work towards closing Hollywood’s gender and race gap. Her grassroots film collective relaunched as Array with a double theatrical release: the South African girl-power story Ayanda and the Liberian migration drama, Out Of My Hand.

The short film continued to captivate in 2015. On this site, an animated exposé on young African girls and colorism and and the fantastical story of a band of superhero Orishas making its online debut were among our most popular stories of the year.

But perhaps the biggest story of them all was on Netflix, where Beasts of No Nation made history as the first original film for the streaming service while also serving as a touchpoint for Okayafrica readers around who gets to tell African narratives and how. Of course, these are just a few highlights from a year that also yielded an Ethiopian post-apocalyptic sci-fi film and a Tuareg reinterpretation of Prince’s Purple Rain.

In the following pages, Okayafrica staff and contributors weigh in on the 15 feature-length films and documentaries that stood out most this year. Here they are listed in no particular order.

-Alyssa Klein

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Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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