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Best Nollywood Directors Of The Decade

by Chukwunwike Ezegbu
Best Nollywood Directors - Kemi Adetiba - Nollywood Celebs

Detailed research done many years ago on the French movie industry discovered that the director’s vision ends up being the main reflection in any film, and we absolutely applaud the country for this. From Bollywood to Hollywood, this idea has since spread and has understandably become the acceptable way of thinking about movies.

As far as Nollywood is concerned though, the director and author are 2 different people. In fact, one could argue that more often than not, the producer is the real author of the movie, which should not be the case. Highlighting a main example, we clearly saw obvious consistency in terms of movie themes, style and direction with films like “Fifty,” “Chief Daddy,” and “Your Excellency,” as we saw with films like “The Wedding Party” and “King of Boys.”

Best Nollywood Directors - Mo Abudu - Nollywood Celebs
PHOTO CREDIT: MO ABUDU – INSTAGRAM

“Fifty,” “Chief Daddy,” and “Your Excellency,” had different directors and one producer, while “The Wedding Party” and “King of Boys,” had one director and different producers. Mo Abudu, owner of EbonyLife media, is the sole producer of the first set of movies while Kemi Adetiba is the only director for the latter group. And anyone who has observed all 5 movies closely can argue favourably that both women are authors even if only one of both Nollywood icons is actually a director.

Thinking about the popular Francois Truffaut quote, “There are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors,” it is safe to conclude that this is not really the case with Nollywood movies. However, we will end it there with the deep perspectives because this is not an article on those, and focus on the greatness of Nigerian directors in movies we have watched since 2010.

After so many years since Nollywood was established, it is sad to know that only a few movie directors can actually fund their visions for the big screen, and it is even more sad to see how funding movie marketing is close to impossible for these uprising creatives behind the camera. All we have nowadays are talented directors getting hired to fulfil other people’s visions, while their own ideas wither away.

It is not all sad and pathetic though, as we have a few directors who have decided to rise above the limitations and make the most of the available resources. These talents definitely earned their spot on this list and they will go down in history as one of the masterminders of the new Nollywood as we have come to know it. See our list of Best Nollywood Directors Of The Decade.

1. Mildred Okwo:

Mildred is one of the most respected personalities in Nollywood, and this vibrant director absolutely deserves that status.

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She has made 2 features titled “The Meeting” and “Suru l’ere,” and both are comic dives into regular experiences as a Nigerian living in the country, fronted by some of the most talented actors Nollywood has ever produced.

2. Abba Makama/CJ Obasi:

Both directors are tied because they are perfect at what they do. They are both known for their appreciation of cinema traditions across the globe and they have been evolving in front of our very eyes. However, while they have regularly screened their movies outside of the country, the feeling is there that the national cinema is yet to fully accept their ideas.

Thus far, they have also struggled with poor funding to bring their visions to life, but if you have watched CJ Obasi’s “O Town” and Abba Makama’s “The Lost Okoroshi,” you can only help but wonder the greatness that will unfold if these men lay their hands on the right amount of investment.

3. Ema Edosio/Jadesola Osiberu:

As feature film directors, Ema Edosio and Jadesola Osiberu have one movie each, “Kasala!” and “Isoken.”

While “Kasala!” has guys as her protagonists and the latter has a woman in her thirties as the protagonist, they are very united in portraying their characters with proper care while putting massive effort into displaying the realities of the Nigerian class system.

4. Kemi Adetiba:

After being a music video director for a while, Kemi Adetiba decided to join Nollywood, a move she will always thank the heavens for. She went on to give us “The Wedding Party,” which delivered a lot of success and revenue. However, it is her feminist gangster, “King of Boys” that she will be remembered for.

At almost 3 hours, Kemi did a beautiful job as director to be very bold with KOB’s editing and storytelling to make the viewers glued. Sola Shobowale was surely incredible as the film’s lead, but it was Kemi Adetiba who ended up stealing the show and making everyone notice the Nollywood momentum she won’t stop building.

5. Dare Olaitan:

Violence and masculinity are Dare Olaitan’s specialities, and he is known to focus on language once in a while as well. In his first feature film titled “Ojukokoro,” this director made sure the strong who starred asserted via violence or the threats of violence.

It was a movie about survival, and anyone who found himself or herself lower on the food chain was in trouble. This movie that centred around conflict and chaos definitely put Dare Olaitan in the spotlight, and many have since marked him to be a star to look out for.

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In his 2nd feature film titled “Knock Out Blessing,” the violence is mainly dished out by the women. This time around, Dare’s men saw themselves reconfiguring their lifestyle to avoid a woman’s terrifying fist. Conflict and chaos were the theme again for this one, and it made Nigerians pay attention to Olaitan the more.

6. Izu Ojukwu:

This is the only director whose career kickstarted before the emergence of new Nollywood as we know it. He made this list because of one project that has stood out from his many works, “76.” This movie could stake its claim as the best Nollywood film of the decade, and it’s all thanks to the lead actors and its director.

Izu’s directing of both Ramsey Nouah and Rita Dominic made them deliver effortlessly with their characters. In fact, the directing was so superb that Chidi Mokeme, who played a supporting role, also stole the show with the little camera time he had.

7. Kenneth Gyang:

Kenneth proved with his first feature film, “Confusion Na Wa” that Nollywood is only destined for a bright future. He has since released movies like “The Lost Cafe,” which screened at the Africa International Film Festival and “Oloture,” which got screened at the Carthage Film Festival recently.

Bringing together popular faces to tell stories with an obvious philosophy and merging that with top-class direction and sharp pictures is the reason why many consider Kenneth Gyang to be in a class of his own.

His movies centre around sadness, mourning and the confusing nature of human relationships, and while his protagonists might get several things, they never really get what it is they need the most. Kenneth’s Nigeria is nothing but the land of fun and youth, but like the real Nigeria, as we all have gotten used to by now, it is really a place that has failed to give its people what they really want.

8. Kunle Afolayan:

Best Nollywood Directors - Kunle Afolayan - Nollywood Celebs
PHOTO CREDIT: KUNLE AFOLAYAN – INSTAGRAM

If the past decade ended after Kunle Afolayan released “October 1” in 2014, he would be the ultimate champion of the Nollywood industry. Sadly, his newer projects, especially “Tribunal” and “Omugwo” have failed to meet expectations. This might be no fault of his, but he clearly raised the bar so high that many expect nothing but the best from him now.

What we cannot doubt, however, is the fact that Kunle Afolayan ruled the early parts of the decade, and no one even came close. He stepped into the decade having released the very successful movie, “The Figurine” in 2009, so he earned the right to release another classic, “Phone Swap” in 2012, which delivered by telling a true story about Nigerian behaviour and what romance is all about in this part of the world.

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He then released “October 1,” a brilliant interrogation of several murders in a pre-Independence Nigerian village, and with it, he proved to the Nigerian audience that Nollywood had no business avoiding sharp pictures and ambitious directing and filmmaking.

Kunle Afolayan’s definitely made his impact in the early years of the past decade, so we can only hope he has something cooking for the early part of this decade as well since it is obvious that the successful Nollywood director and producer has what it takes to deliver.

Tips On How To Be A Good Nollywood Director:

1. Know Your Actor:

As a director, if an actor you are about to work with is one you have never worked with before, it is your duty to do some research before work begins. If possible, reach out to other directors they have worked with previously to know how they work. It helps you to know what to expect from the professional so you don’t get caught unawares.

2. Keep Them Involved:

Actors like to feel included in the process of a movie they are featuring in, so you have to make that happen. As a director, there is nothing wrong in asking them if they would like to see your shot list, lookbook, storyboard or whatever you worked on before the project starts. This aids them to see your vision and know where you are going with the story everyone was gathered for.

3. Create A Respectable Environment:

You should always ensure you ressure your actors that you respect them and their talents, and the working environment is a good place to start. Also, directors should avoid raising their voices on set as it creates unnecessary tension that will distract the job at hand.

4. Be Flexible:

A director must always be flexible enough to have a quality plan for how he or she wants each scene to go. However, when plan A does not work, a director should also be prepared enough to have backup plans that will work better.

5. Let Professionals Do Their Work:

It makes a lot of sense for directors to communicate their ideas to actors in pre-production and even rub minds before a scene starts, but immediately the camera starts rolling, the actor should be allowed to be in control.

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