BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
Nollywood boasts of numerous filmmakers who have distinguished themselves with their works, consistency, and contributions to the industry. These filmmakers have pushed the envelope to ensure that their works not only stand out, they are also nailed on to stand the test of time.
Even though this list is by no means exhaustive, and we acknowledge that there are plenty more hardworking and talented players in the industry, below are EIGHT directors we love and are convinced every Nigerian should be proud of.
1. ABBA T. MAKAMA
SELECTED WORKS: Direc-toh, Party of Minister, Quacks, Nollywood: Something out of Nothing, Green White Green
VERDICT: A New York University graduate, Makama has received numerous accolades for his work, and rightly so. He has come far too. From his Amebo at Four skits to his web series, TV shows and short films, Makama has shown the presence of a huge well of creativity in his slightly bulky frame. Green White Green, by all accounts, portrays a new movement in Nigerian filmmaking and it shows ambition. It was met with positive feedbacks at the recently-ended Toronto International Film Festival. We can’t wait to find out what more he has in his locker. But first, let’s enjoy the beauty of Green White Green.
2. IZU OJUKWU
SELECTED WORKS: Desperados, Icabod, White Waters, Alero’s Symphony, Moving Train, Sitanda, Across the Niger, ’76
VERDICT: Ojukwu has over the years created and maintained a style for himself. He got really daring with his 2013 film, Across the Niger which attempted to cross the “divide.” ’76 is another daring project – a swim in the sensitive waters of the Nigerian Army and one of the most publicized coup attempts in Nigeria’s political history. He has emerged, it seems, unhurt by the sharks.
3. TOPE OSHIN
SELECTED WORKS: The Young Smoker, Journey to Self, Relentless, Amaka’s Kin
VERDICT: Since her talent was spotted by Amaka Igwe, Oshin has gone ahead to establish herself as one of the filmmaking voices to be heard in Nigeria. Directing over 350 episodes of Nigeria’s longest running telenovela is not child’s play. Especially when you are a woman in what is relatively a male-dominated industry. Her latest work, Amaka’s Kin, is a very well-made documentary about women filmmakers in Nigeria and a successful effort at documenting their struggles while paying tribute to the great Amaka Igwe for leading the way.
4. NIYI AKINMOLAYAN
SELECTED WORKS: Kajola, Make a Move, Falling, Out of Luck, The Arbitration
VERDICT: You may struggle to find a more ambitious project in recent Nollywood history than Akinmolayan’s 2009 film, Kajola. Even though the film didn’t have the luxury of a commercial success, Akinmolayan definitely learnt major filmmaking lessons. From, Falling, through Out of Luck, the progression has been evident. His latest, The Arbitration, is a testament to his steady but huge growth as a filmmaker. The impressive thing is how every part of the film, including the technicals, was done in Nigeria. Expect the awards to roll in on this one.
5. CJ OBASI
SELECTED WORKS: Ojuju, O-Town
VERDICT: For Ojuju, the ‘Fiery’ one plunged into a genre that no Nigerian filmmaker had previously given anything more than a thought. Obasi made a zombie film with as low a budget as you can imagine. Not only did it come out good, it strolled into the lineups of festivals around the world and won him several awards – including the AMVCA. O-Town was a brave gangster project too.
6. STANLEE OHIKHUARE
SELECTED WORKS: Kpians: The Feast of Souls, Stupid Movie, Common Man, Tunnel
VERDICT: Stanlee has described himself on numerous occasions as an auteur. So, don’t be surprised if his works are not counted among the highest grossing films in any given year. But in an industry where many have chosen to sacrifice their artistic reputations for commercial success, what this filmmaker is doing is worth, at the very least, a pat on the back. Stanlee speaks in special effects. And due to the bravery of directors like him, younger practitioners can explore that technical aspect of filmmaking with less fears.
7. ISHAYA BAKO
SELECTED WORKS: Braids on a Bald Head, Fuelling Poverty, Henna, Road to Yesterday
VERDICT: 29-year-old Bako’s Fuelling Poverty fuelled national discussions as regards fuel subsidy, the Occupy Nigeria movement and poverty. His skills and proficiency at making documentary films are widely recognised. See Braids on a Bald Head, Fuelling Poverty and Henna. In his feature length debut, Road to Yesterday, Bako handles expectations quite well.
8. STEVE GUKAS
SELECTED WORKS: Keeping Faith, A Place in the Stars, 93 Days
VERDICT: Steve Gukas has proven himself as a director to be proud of with his work in 93 Days. If you had any doubts with A Place in the Stars (and a few of us actually had a few), this latest work of his should, to a very large extent, suspend that conversation. Personally, I’ve not seen more attention paid to detail in any Nollywood film this year than 93 Days. It is a brilliant film by every standard. Yes, I said so.