Netflix just premiered the film Lionheart, its first original film from Nigeria. Although Netflix might be new to the Nigerian film scene, we’re not. The first Nigerian blockbuster was released in 1992, and although the United States’ motion picture industry is about 120 years older, statistically you wouldn’t know. Nollywood, Nigeria’s entertainment industry, is the second-largest film industry in the world — which means that they’ve been creating incredible films for years. If you want to binge watch a few Nigerian films after watching Lionheart , or if you’ve been curious about the Nollywood scene and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you!
Here are 5 Nigerian film classics that you’ve got to see:
1) Aki na Ukwa (2003)
We’ll start light. For the comedy lovers out there, get acclimated with the comedic powerhouse duo, Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze. You’ve probably seen a meme or two of “Aki” and “PawPaw” floating around twitter but here’s a great movie where they start a whole lot of trouble and viewers have a whole lot of fun. In the film, directed by Amaya Uzo Philips, the duo are at their comedic height as they play two terribly behaved brothers causing destruction — everywhere.
2) Blood Sisters (2003)
This haunting film directed by Tchidi Chikere and starring the legendary Genevieve Nnaji (actress and director of Lionheart) and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, follows sisters whose relationship darkens due to jealousy and envy. This all-star cast skillfully balances the heartbreak of the sublimely terrifying, securing its place on this list. Blood Sisters proves that sometimes the most frightening things lie within our very hearts, and it’s so dangerously honest, you’ll be thinking about the film years after watching it. Trust.
3) Agony for an Orphan (2002)
Also known as Cry for Help, this one will literally have you in your feelings. The film, directed by Andy Amenchi, follows a young orphan girl named Blessing as she faces heartbreaking misfortunes. Played with extreme mastery by the unmatched emotional powerhouse Nkiru Sylvanus, Blessing and the film have both earned their place in our hearts and in the Nollywood history books forever and ever.
4) Keziah (2007)
Directed by Stanley Anaekwe, Keziah is probably the least known film on this list, but we had to include at least one movie starring Mercy Johnson, who is Nollywood’s leading lady (think Kerry Washington meets Lupita). This comedy follows a religious daughter who becomes a sex maniac after an envious acquaintance casts a spell on her. It stars the hilarious John Okafor as her father and it’s a must-watch.
5) Osuofia In London (2003)
This list would not be complete without Nigeria’s highest selling film. Directed by Kingsley Ogoro, Osuofia In London, follows a poor villager named Osuofia (played by the comedic legend Nkem Owoh), who travels to London after inheriting a share of his late brother’s will. The events that transpire throughout the movie are a hilarious mess. It is definitely a must watch.
Enjoy your Nollywood and Chill session!