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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'sDinner 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: Screengrab from Lingui: Les Liens Sacrés

The Best African Films of 2021

From an Egyptian film about women empowerment to an imagination of quintessential Nigerian folktales, here are the best African films released in 2021.

We are going into year three of the coronavirus pandemic. And only recently has the film business regained a sense of normalcy. Physical film festivals are back within and outside the continent. While productions have seen a headway, with prominent filmmakers continuously teasing about their projects for next year.

Despite the challenges of the last couple of years, it was a good year for filmmakers throughout the continent. This year’s list of the best movies of 2021 consists of seven brilliant films from various parts of Africa, most of which explore everyday life and how certain factors knowingly or unknowingly are at play. Most excitingly is the fact that there are a few new directors on the list, serving fresh perspectives around some of the most pressing issues. (There are also quite a few veteran directors — used to wearing big pants on the set of a film project — on our list.)

From an Egyptian film about women empowerment to an imagination of quintessential Nigerian folktales, here are the best African films released in 2021.

Feathers (Egypt)

Feathers is a slow-paced story of a downtrodden housewife who has to take on the role of breadwinner (in addition to her other roles) when her good-for-nothing husband is irreversibly turned into a chicken at their child’s birthday party. The movie offers a look at the very evident subjugation and marginalization of women.

Omar El Zohairy’s black comedy debut has gathered its fair share of press since its release to the public. It has gained recognition from various film festivals all over the world including Cannes, Carthage, and El Gouna. It has also received backlash mostly by Egyptians due to the representation of the country and its people in the film.

Juju Stories (Nigeria)

Juju Stories is a three-part feature film exploring supernatural themes based on urban legends in Nigerian superstition. Directed by a trio popularly known as the Surreal16 Collective, each film re-imagines a popular aspect of Nigerian folklore and tells a unique story. In "Yam," there are repercussions when a street urchin picks up random money from the roadside. "Love Potion," on the other hand, is about an unmarried woman who uses juju to find herself an ideal mate. While "Suffer the Witch" is a tale of love and friendship morphed into obsession.

​The Gravedigger’s Wife (Somalia)​

The Gravedigger's Wife has a lot of firsts going for it. It is director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s debut and also the first Somali film to be entered for the Best International Feature Film at the Oscars. The film — which looks at Guled.(Omar Abdi), a gravedigger in Djibouti who struggles to raise money when his wife, Nasra (Yasmin Warsame), becomes ill with a terminal disease — made its grand appearance at Cannes and, like most films on this list, has traveled through the festival circuit. It also won the highly coveted Étalon de Yennenga at the 2021 edition of FESPACO.

Freda (Haiti)

For Freda (Nehemie Bastien) and her family every day is a fight to escape the cards they have been dealt. The film explores their desperate hope for a better life. The big question for them is whether this better life includes their hometown or not, especially with the state of affairs. Freda is a celebration of doggedness, and allows us to take a look at Haiti today through the multi-faceted characters.

The film has traveled across festivals including Cannes and FESPACO. It was also selected as the Haitian entry for the Best International Feature at the 94th Academy Awards.

A Tale Of Love and Desire (Tunisia)

Leyla Bouzid’s second feature follows Ahmed (Sami Outalbali), a young French-Algerian man in Paris who meets Farah (Zbeida Belhajamor), a Tunisian girl. It is the classic boy-meet-girl story, only that this time around, it plays around with very interesting themes of identity and sexuality. Like most coming of age stories, this film dances around some very existent tropes. Nonetheless, it is very warm and has its way of drawing you in with rapt attention to Ahmed and Farah’s love story.

Casablanca Beats (Morocco)

There’s something beautiful about freedom and breaking the odds. And director Nabil Ayouch knows about these things maybe a little too well. His latest, Haut et Fort (or Casablanca Beats) is Morocco’s entry for the International Feature Film at the Oscars and tells a personal story about his life growing up in a suburb in Paris.

In this musical drama, former rapper Anas Basbousi takes a job at a cultural center in a working-class neighborhood in Casablanca. His job entails dealing with students, most of whom already are bound by religion, tradition, and more to follow the status quo. Annas' job is to help them live their passion and break odds through hip-hop.

Lingui: Les Liens Sacrés (Chad)

Mahamet Saleh Haroun’s Lingui tells the story of Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane), a Muslim woman who lives with her 15-year-old daughter, Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio). When she realizes that Maria is pregnant and wants to abort the child, they face an impossible situation in a country where abortion is legally and morally condemned.

Lingui, which is the Chadian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the Oscars, shines a bright light on the patriarchal laws in Chad. It shows the importance of community and how powerful the connections that women form.

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