What do you know about the people that direct the films you enjoy? Some directors are popular and this makes their films popular, but others have popular films and are unknown. Kunle Afolayan is perhaps one of the most known directors; his films are directly linked to his name. People go to see his films because of his name. They trust the content because they trust the maker and so they just assemble in the cinema, showing their support.
Some directors in the past have also drawn an audience because of their names. Directors like Chidi Chikere, Lancelot Imaseun, Jeta Amata and Andy Best are some of these directors; you can probably recall a film or two they’ve directed.
Personally, the director that would make a movie and I wouldn’t even care what the content is and I will rush to see it, is Chineze Anyaene. Her last work was an absolute beauty.
This countdown consists of directors that you probably have seen a film they’ve directed and maybe, you appreciated them. Yet they remain under the radar, unknown to many people. They are however, full of pure talent, very daring and always dish out extraordinarily creative narratives.
With this countdown, we celebrate some of the best directors in Nollywood that are not as famous as the beauty of their works.
- ISHAYA BAKO: One of my favourite directors in Nollywood is Ishaya Bako especially because of his short films. He is the director of one of the most daring short films chronicling the Northern culture, Braids on a Bald Hair. Last year, he had two films at AFRIFF 2015, including Genevieve Nnaji’s debut as a producer, Road to Yesterday. He focuses on Northern stories and how they affect our world. His 2015 documentary Silent Tears focuses on gender-based violence and won the Audience Choice Awards at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) 2015
- STEVE GUKAS: he is the director that does everything quite differently. With special interest on cinematography, his films do not just offer pleasure because of the stories being told, it is also the attention put into the cinematography. Crisp images, beautiful scenery, and fantastic storylines. Steve Gukas is inspired by true life events and this has always reflected in his works. A place in the Stars (2014) was inspired by the war against fake drugs in Nigeria during the time of Dora Akunyili, and the film is spectacular, backed up by a stirring performance from Gideon Okeke. This year he takes on the Ebola crisis in 93 Days and the reviews are generally positive.
- IZU OJUKWU: you may have heard his name, thanks in part to the buzz that 76 have amassed recently, but Izu Ojukwu has been a director for such a long time. One of the first directors I was able to name from a young age because most of his films were shot at locations I am familiar with. White Waters (2007) is one of his best works, a sport drama that is intriguing and best of all inspiring. It features a stellar cast that involves Rita Dominic, O.C Ukeje, and Joke Silva. Other works include the amazing Sitanda (2008) featuring Stephanie Okereke, Ali Nuhu, Ireti Doyle. There is also Cindy’s note with Bayray Mcwizu and earlier this year Remember Me with Uru Eke.
- NIYI AKIMOLAYAN: He has to his credit, some really popular films, from Make A Move featuring ivie Okujaiye and Falling featuring Adesua Etomi. Those were all calm and really appealing films but he took a rash turn and now directs more daring films such as Out of Luck and The Arbitration. He makes bold statements and he wears his passion for Nollywood on his sleeves.
- ABBA T MAKAMA: To be compared to Spike Lee is an honour. Abba Makama was the only director to take an almost unknown cast to TIFF and he returned with a lot of positive reviews for his film Green White Green. They say there is something extraordinary about the creativity of painters. The ability to create life and then give it life with colours, which is what Makama does best. If you have seen his documentary on the Nigerian film industry, you will appreciate this talent more.
- J FIERY OBASI: He won the 2015 trailblazer award at the AMVCA. He directed a no-budget zombie thriller, Ojuju, which caused quite the stir. Other works include O-town and recently he has been hinting on a film about Mami-water. Maybe, we will get a Karashika remake or something similar, but we would just wait and see where this revolutionary mind goes with his next project.
- ERIC AGHIMIEN: A Mile From Home was a bold move, winning the AMVCA for best actor for Tope Tedela. I watched Behind the Scenes of this film and it is just amazing how the action scenes came to life. With so much dedication and the rare ability to give Nigerians the action thriller we all love to watch. Eric is a winner on our list. A Mile From Home was tastefully done.
- ADEOLA OSUNKOJO: A bold female on the list. She directed the remarkable Rumour Has it featuring Uru Eke and also the web comedy, the Life of a Nigerian couple. Her best language is the Nigerian woman and watching Rumour Has It, you could just feel the directors’ joy when ‘karma’ decides to strike the cheating husband. She captures those scenes with infectious joy. Rumour Has It is one of the most popular web series of 2016; you know the series, now know the director!
- KENNETH GYANG: have you seen the movie Confusion Nawa yet? It features Ramsey Noah and O.C Ukeje. It won O.C Ukeje an award at the AMVCA and this director loves to work very calmly, yet we appreciate his work. He also directed the beautiful How I Made My First Million, an inspirational series about entrepreneurship for Ebony Life TV. He is also the director for the new Ebony Life Series Sons of the Caliphate which promises to be quite the drama, as well as the Lost Café, an international collaboration between Nollywood and the Norwegian film industry.
- WALTER BANGER: The brain behind Gbomo-Gbomo Express (2015). The film is interesting because of its ability to mix comedy and crime. It was also quite daring. He is also the director of The Wages (2013). Another wild creation of Walter Banger is Married to The Game on Ebony Life.
- NADINE IBRAHIM: the new female on the block, and one that is worthy of your attention recently released a short film “Through her Eyes”; it is a heart-wrenching film of a young girl abducted and sent on a suicide mission. Through Her Eyes was written and directed by Nadine Ibrahim. So far, the short film has been featured in two international film festivals. It was a semi-finalist at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival and last November was nominated in the short film category at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). For such a short film it is a stunningly powerful depiction, offering viewers an imaginative look at the life of a 12-year-old female suicide bomber. It is the story of many young girls abducted in Northern Nigeria and Nadine uses silence as the major form of communicating her story. “Through her Eyes” is a reason to welcome Nadine into the industry.
About the Author
Rejoice Abutsa is a 22-year-old aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.
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