Nigerian cinema is one of the largest film industries in the world, and it has never been easier to watch some of the country’s biggest and best movies at home.
Netflix has been steadily building its collection of Nollywood hits in recent years; notably Kunle Afolayan’s October 1 and Biyi Bandele’s Fifty in 2015. Then in September 2018, Netflix acquired Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut Lionheart – starring Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh, and Genevieve Nnaji herself – making it the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria.
More recently, the streaming giant has begun stepping up its game even more in Nigeria, and signing deals with some of the country’s biggest movie-makers, such as EbonyLife Films. Back in February, Netflix announced the arrival of Netflix Naija with a new Twitter account.
The announcement – which was shared by some of the industry’s most notable names, including Richard Mofe-Damijo, Banky W, Adesua Etomi, Kunle Folayan and Kemi Adetiba – read: “N is for Naija. N is for Nollywood. N is the 14th alphabet. 14 is also how many great talents you’re looking at. N is for Netflix. But most importantly…hello, Nigeria!”
In March, Netflix’s first Nigerian original series was announced. While there’s no news yet on a title or release date, the six-part drama will be directed by Akin Omotoso (Tell Me Sweet Something, Vaya) and will follow ‘a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death.’ Exciting!
Also worth a mention is 2018’s Nigerian Prince, which dropped on Netflix UK on 14th August. Directed by Faraday Okoro and exec-produced by Spike Lee and Sam Pollard, it tells the story of Eze, a stubborn first-gen Nigerian-American teenager who is sent to Nigeria by his mother, and his cousin Pius, who runs a scamming business (which could be Eze’s ticket to a return flight back to the US). The film has been a hit on Netflix and is a great way to introduce yourself to the genre.
So, whether you’re a Nollywood newcomer or one of the genre’s long-standing film buffs, here are some of the best Nollywood films on Netflix right now…
Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut was the first Netflix original film produced in Nigeria. At the 92nd Academy Awards in 2020, Lionheart was selected as the Nigerian entry for the Best International Feature Film, marking the first time the country submitted a film to the Oscars.
When her father can no longer run his business due to health issues, Adaeze Obiagu (Nnaji) steps up to the challenge – alongside her uncle Godswill (Nkem Owoh) – of saving the company from debt and the threat of takeover, all while trying to prove her worth as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
The Wedding Party (2016)
This rom-com had the country’s biggest opening of any Nollywood film to date and was the highest-grossing Nigerian film until its sequel The Wedding Party 2 (also on Netflix).
From prominent Nigerian filmmaker Kemi Adetiba, The Wedding Party is a laugh-out-loud story about when the lavish wedding of Dunni Coker (Adesua Etomi) and Dozie Onwuka (Banky Wellington) doesn’t go quite according to plan. Fun fact: Etomi and Wellington are married in real life, and have been since 2017.
King of Boys (2018)
King of Boys sees director Kemi Adetiba team up again with Adesua Etomi to tell the story of powerful businesswoman Alhaja Eniola Salami, whose political ambitions are threatened by the underworld connections responsible for her wealth and prominence. The ensuing power struggle could cost her everything.
93 Days (2016)
A powerful account of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, and the heroic work of health workers from a Lagos hospital who successfully contained the disease. The film is dedicated to Nigerian physician Ameyo Adadevoh, who played a key role in the containment of Ebola in Nigeria.
Meet The In-Laws (2016)
The latest addition to Netflix’s Nollywood offering, dropping on 18th August is Meet The In-Laws follows the engagement between a Yoruba man and his Igbo girlfriend and explores the family fall-out when their parents don’t approve of their union. But the young couple soon realise that the disapproval runs deeper than just tribal differences.
It’s Her Day (2016)
A comedy-drama about a couple due to be married, and the class struggle for the bride’s dream high-end wedding. Groom-to-be Victor (Bovi Ugboma) thinks the wedding should be simple, but Nicole (Ini Dima-Okojie) has other ideas.
Nigerian Prince (2018)
Nigerian Prince has been a hit with viewers since it landed on Netflix, and many are taking to social media to praise the film. After his mum sends him to Nigeria against his will, stubborn Nigerian-American teen Eze (Antonio J Bell) joins forces with his cousin Pius (Chinaza Uche) – who runs an online scamming business – to try and earn the money for his flight back to the US.
Chief Daddy (2018)
This well-loved comedy-drama film is about a billionaire industrialist, Chief Beecroft, a larger-than-life benefactor to a vast extended family of relatives, household staff, and assorted mistresses – until he suddenly drops dead. Who’s in the will, and who will inherit his enormous wealth? One thing’s for sure: it’s not going to be straightforward.
October 1st (2014)
Set in Colonial Nigeria, October 1st is a dark, suspenseful thriller following the story of police officer Danladi Waziri (Sadiq Daba), who is posted from Northern Nigeria to the remote town of Akote in the west of the country. He must race to catch a murderer who is killing local women in the area before the Nigerian flag is raised on 1st October, Nigeria’s Independence Day.
Cold Feet (2019)
A surprise resort getaway to celebrate a fifth anniversary descends into chaos as two couples’ lives collide when Omoye (Joselyn Dumas) bumps into her old love, Tare (Enyinna Nwigwe).
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