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Photo Credit: From For Maria Ebun Pataki

The Best Nollywood Films of 2022 So Far

Here are the best Nollywood films of 2022 so far. One note: we only took into account feature-length projects for our ranking, leaving out short films and documentaries.

There have been many developments that have pushed the Nollywood film industry forward and away from the traditional cinema route. This year, Netflix has released some more original Nigerian content, including the highly talked about Blood Sisters series. Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, is gathering its collection of local Nollywood content in preparation for what is a huge launch later in the year.

While some may argue that the industry is moving forward very slowly — especially in comparison to years in the past — there’s still more room for growth. There were only a few Nollywood highlights during the first half of 2022. But the highlights were very strong and we feel confident about where the second half of 2022 will take us.

Here are the best Nollywood films of 2022 so far. One additional note: we only took into account feature-length projects for our ranking, leaving out short films and documentaries.

Dinner at My Place

The romantic comedies produced by Nollywood are well-known, and Kevin Apaa's Dinner at My Place is unquestionably one of the better ones. In this film, Nonso (played by Timini Egbuson) intends to pop the question to his girlfriend over dinner using an expensive ring that belonged to his late mother. Nonso ends up with the ring in the soup and receives an unexpected visitor, which alters the course of the enjoyable night he had planned.

Dinner at My Place, which was originally planned to be a short film, plays into the typical love clichés. Still, its engaging and has a fresh plot. And the standout performances are enough compensation for viewers.

For Maria Ebun Pataki

In Damilola Orimogunje’s debut feature film, the director decides to tackle postpartum depression, a topic which does not get enough representation, particularly through cinema. For Maria Ebun Pataki comes well armed with some of the things that make it a good watch, despite the difficult topic it touches on: there's a simple story, good camera work, and brilliant performances from actors Meg Otanwa, Gabriel Afolayan, and Tina Mba.

For Maria Ebun Pataki is currently streaming on Netflix.

King of Thieves

There has been an upsurge in epic Nollywood films over the past few years. And the story of bravery and betrayal told in King of Thieves stands out; this is one of the most exciting additions to Nollywood’s epics catalogue.

The blood-thirsty Ageshinkole, the main character in the film, wages a campaign of terror on Ajeromi’s kingdom, but there’s more to his madness than meets the eye. For over two hours, King of Thieves weaves a plot that is not perfect but has a lot going for it to keep viewers charmed till the end.

The Blood Covenant

Directed by Fiyin Gambo, The Blood Covenant tells the story of Eddy (Oluwatobi Bakre), Jite (Uzor Arukwe), and Osiano (Shawn Faqua) who are plagued by the struggles of everyday living in the bustling Lagos. These boys, together with an old classmate who turns rich overnight, are bound by a blood covenant which they made while in school and now have to deal with the consequences when a night of enjoyment turns out sour.

The acting in the film takes the cake for most of it with Arukwe and Bakre delivering some of their finest work here. It is also worthy to commend the subtle comedy, which works well sometimes to distract from the horror that hangs over the plot.

The Blood Covenant is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

A Simple Lie

Making films that stand out in Nollywood is nothing new for Biodun Stephen. This time around, she enlists Bisola Aiyeola, Kachi Nnochiri, Bukunmi Adeaga-Ilori, Bolaji Ogunmola, and other actors to do justice to her most recent comedy, A Simple Lie.

In this one, Boma (Bisola Aiyeola) is desperate for the attention of her ex-boyfriend, Xavier (Kachi Nnochiri), so much that she’d tell big lies to get him back. Her biggest lie causes a series of tragic occurrences that impact the lives of people around her and causes chaos throughout the entire film.

A Simple Lie excels as an engaging comedy film and holds the interest of the audience starting with an opening act that is amusing and simply fantastic.

Vanity

In Vanity, Ify (Jemima Osunde) is a young lady who moves to Lagos from Enugu after getting married to her husband, Kobi (Uzor Arukwe). While Ify is settling to life in the ‘big city’ as a newlywed, her husband expects her to get a job and contribute to the pool of funds for their growing family. Kobi is also very keen on her active participation, which leaves him overbearing most of the time.

Directed by Chukwuemeka Nwabunze, Vanity shines with great production, engaging storytelling and a stellar performance from Arukwe.

Ile Owo

For an industry that started off with a lot of horror movies, Nollywood tends to stay away from it regularly, sticking to its romantic comedy niche. It is why films like Dare Olaitan’s Ile Owo score cool points for existing — they’re new, different and hit a little close to the stories and beliefs we’re very accustomed to knowing.

In Ile Owo, we’re taken on a journey to meet Akanni Owo, a man who has everything but wants to live forever. He gets this for his descendants, however, there’s a steep price to pay for this to happen. While Ile Owo's opening act is fairly strong, much more is required to keep things moving forward for the duration of the show's 95 minutes.

The film features stars such as Efa Iwara, Immaculata Oko-Kassim, Sophie Alakija, Femi Lewis and Tina Mba.

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Photo Credit: Father’s Day (Kivu Ruhorahoza)

The 10 Best African Films of 2022 So Far

Young new filmmakers are emerging and more African films are being welcomed by the biggest film festivals around the world. Here are the standout African movies of 2022 so far.

We are at the halfway point and it has been an interesting year for African films so far.

Throughout the continent, the box office continues to recover from Covid-19 shutdowns. (Nigeria had its biggest hit ever with King of Thieves, which has raked in more than N300 million.) Young new filmmakers are emerging and more films are being welcomed by the biggest film festivals around the world.

While streaming platforms continue to deepen investments on the continent as they seek to expand their reach. So, when constructing our list of 2022 movies, we had a lot to choose from.

Here are the best African movies of 2022 so far.

Father’s Day (Rwanda)

A struggling masseuse is devastated by the accidental death of her son. A caring daughter contemplates donating an organ to save her ailing father. A small-time criminal drags his young son into his dangerous world. With the poignant Father’s Day, Kivu Ruhorahoza weaves three separate stories set in and around the city of Kigali. Presented with precision and emotional intensity, Father’s Day is a bracing, humane interrogation of the effects of traditional patriarchal systems.

For Maria (Ẹ̀bùn Pàtàkì) (Nigeria)

In Damilola Orimogunje’s stark domestic drama, a first-time mother (a volcanic Meg Otanwa) cannot bring herself to bond with her newborn after suffering a difficult delivery. The filmmaker and his strong cast of actors are able to create a realist piece of cinema that powers through limited resources and shines with intent. With mood, colors, shadows and silences, For Maria (Ẹ̀bùn Pàtàkì) paints a convincing and heartbreaking picture of postpartum depression.

King of Thieves (Nigeria)

This hugely entertaining romp, written and shot in the Yoruba language enjoyed massive crossover success at the Nigerian box office where it became the highest grossing film of the year so far. Directed by the duo of Adebayo Tijani and Tope Adebayo, the ambitious King of Thieves brings to life ancient Yoruba mythology with the story of a once prosperous kingdom caught in the grip of powerful bandit. Employing neat CGI tricks, a parade of hardworking actors and sheer narrative gusto, King of Thieves reaches beyond its obvious limitations.

Juwaa (DRC/Belgium)

A quietly contained drama, Juwaa is the first feature film from Nganji Mutiri, an artist and filmmaker originally from Bukavu who is now living in Brussels. Juwaa is set in both countries and observes a mother (Babetida Sadjo) and her estranged son (Edson Anibal) who are both survivors of a traumatic past as they reconcile and gradually renegotiate the layers of their relationship. Mutiri is working with limited resources and, while his film isn’t perfect, he reaches for big themes and grand ideas.

Lingui, the Sacred Bonds (Chad/France/Belgium/Germany)

The iconic Mahamat-Saleh Haroun returns to his native Chad with this timely and fiercely feminist socio-realist drama that tackles the beast that is abortion rights in a conservative society. Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) is an independent woman who finds herself in a race against the forces of patriarchy when her fifteen-year-old daughter Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio) gets pregnant. Amina supports her daughter as they try to get an abortion, a procedure that is both frowned upon by Islam and illegal in Chad.

Neptune Frost (Rwanda/USA)

Neptune (Cheryl Isheja), an intersex hacker is guided by magnetic pull to Digitaria, an outcast enclave in the hills of Burundi peopled by rebel hackers. There, they are joined by Matalusa (Bertrand Ninteretse), a miner mourning the loss of a loved one. As these outcasts journey on, they sing, dance, trade ideas and fend off interference from operatives of the state, all the while debating ideas and swapping concerns on what it means to exist on the fringes. Neptune Frost is a radical new vision conceived and co-directed by the duo of Rwandan filmmaker Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams.

No Simple Way Home (Kenya/South Africa/South Sudan)

For Akuol de Mabior’s debut feature length film, she turns inwards to her family’s legacy and grapples with difficult questions. What is the meaning of home? And what duty does she owe her people as a child of renowned politicians and freedom fighters? Born and raised in exile, de Mabior follows her mother and sister in South Sudan as they play their parts in nation building.

Silverton Siege (South Africa)

It is Silverton, Pretoria in 1980. And three armed activists of the ANC’s uMkhonto we Sizwe faction take a bank hostage. It ends in tears. Forty-two years later, these freedom fighters were immortalized in this splashy Netflix caper directed by Mandla Dube. Starring Thabo Rametsi as the leader of the group, Silverton SiegeSiege benefits from Dube’s eye for periodic detail and his affinity for setting up brisk action scenes. The film works best and delivers the thrills when it doubles down on the action set pieces.

Tug of War (Vuta N’Kuvute) (Tanzania/South Africa/Qatar/Germany)

The first Tanzanian film to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is an adaptation of a hugely popular Swahili novel by author Shafi Adam Shafi. Co-written and directed by Amil Shivji (T-Junction), Tug of War is a visually appealing saga about a pair of star-crossed lovers caught up in the throes of the British occupation of Zanzibar. A young revolutionary fighting for self-actualization of his homeland falls for a rebellious Indian-Zanzibari woman fleeing an arranged marriage. Can they make it work?

We, Students! (Central African Republic/France/DRC/Saudi Arabia)

Rafiki Fariala was a student of Economics at the University of Bangui when he decided to film his experiences and those of his friends as they struggled to graduate in one of the most challenging places on the continent to be a student. Rough around the edges but oddly charming, We, Students! is the end result of Fariala’s efforts. The film received its world premiere at the Berlinale and tells a familiar story of systemic corruption, preying lecturers and depressing campus living conditions. Triumphing above all these challenges is the indomitable will of the students.

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