by Seun Ajayi
As I sat in the large auditorium watching the different winners for the 2012 AMAA Awards give their acceptance speeches, a thought clicked; African Cinema was finally choking out jokers. A new wave of healthy competition surges in African Cinema and it’s clear that the worth of flicks in the continent has nowhere to go, but up. It is even more apparent in Nigeria as producer now buy better scripts and dig out creative & technical talents before even approaching the poker table called ‘cinema screenings’. We are bent on upping our game, it seems. I have compiled this list of movies that are soon to hit screens around the continent and indeed the world, as a helpful guide.
1. Lions Of 76
This is a movie based on an unsuccessful military coup (a phenomenon that dots Nigeria’s political history) and the repercussions that trail all characters involved. The film is to be directed by Izu Ojukwu, the award-winning director of ‘Sitanda’, ‘White Waters’, ‘Cindy’s Notes’, ‘The Child’ and the most recent ‘Alero’s Symphony’ – which earned Ivie Okujaye the AMAA 2012 for Best Newcomer. Ojukwu is tentatively billed to work with Mauro Fiore (Director of photography – ‘Training Day’) on the project. With a pre-production period lasting over a year, the planned 35-mm project promises an optical dimension not envisaged Nigerian Cinema yet. ‘Lions of 76’ is to star Ramsey Noah and Rita Dominic.
2. Last Flight To Abuja
From writer/Director Obi Emelonye, the mind responsible for ‘The Mirror Boy’, comes this new entry based on true events from the stormy past of the Nigerian aviation sector. The flick features “A-listers” including; Hakim Kae-Kazim, Omotola Jalade Ekehinde, Jim Iyke, and Ali Nuhu amongst many others. ‘Last Flight to Abuja’ Premieres on June 8th 2012.
Not many directors in Nigeria have ventured the way of dark and gripping thrillers with much success, but James Omokwe (CEO – Studio84) in directing ‘Awakening’, gives Nigerian Cinema a thrill as cold as death itself. The film stars O.C Ukeje and Kehinde Bankole.
Not much info on the film has been provided, however, it looks promising as the previously released teaser attracted quite a buzz. Veesta will supply more info as soon as the producers think it appropriate (without throwing out any spoilers of course).
4. The Meeting
Rita Dominic seems to be having a fantastic year. An AMAA (Best Actress) in the kitty, a role in a Nigerian period flick (‘Lions of 76’) and now producing her own soon to be released romantic comedy, ‘The Meeting’. Rita teams up with Mildred Okwo, (Director/Co-producer – ‘The Meeting’), to tell the tale of a corporate head who finds himself at the mercy of political patronage, bureaucratic red-tape, and his tender heart, when he embarks on a one day business trip to Abuja to secure a FG contract. ‘The Meeting’ stars Femi Jacobs, Linda Ejiofor, and Rita Dominic.
‘Kajola’ got very hard knocks from critics when it made its debut on the Nigerian movie scene. The sour welcome got Niyi Akinmolayan, the film’s directir, running back to the drawing board. Now he is poised to make a positive comeback with a new action movie, ‘Valour’. According to members of the cast and crew, this new flick will set the tone for the action genre in Nigeria. The film features Wole Ojo (The Child, Maami), and Ivie Okujaye (Alero’s Symphony).
6. Dr Bello
Black Ivory Communications (BIC) is the first beneficiary of the $200 milion intervention fund for Nigerian entertainers. True to its proposal, BIC has ploughed the received subsidy into a Nigerian/American collaboration, ‘Dr Bello’. The Tony Abulu film stars Isaiah Washington, Vivica .A .Fox, Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke-Idahosa, and Zack Orji. ‘Dr Bello’ is set for release later in 2012.
This is another film that trails that dark thriller path. Envisioned by National Film Institute Jos Alumni, Achor Yusuf, this promises a bucket-full of spasms. After earning directorial credits for TV series like ‘The Station’ , Young Single & Free’ and ‘The Maze’ , Yusuf steps into the next realm with this ambitious feature. The plot wraps itself around a 24-year-old geology geek who leads a bunch of close friends and study pals on an expedition in a jungle which used to be home to a tribe with a dark past. Shot on location in the outskirts of Abuja, all the night scenes were recorded during the day, a technique not many filmmakers this part of the Atlantic employ. ‘Encore’ is set for release this year.
8. 7 Heads
From the stable of Touch Media, comes this Tunde Babalola penning. Babalola is responsible for screenplays like Alero’s Symphony, Critical Assignment (Michael Power Feature for Guinness) ‘Maami’, and a few others. 7 Heads already has on its cast list; Wole Ojo, Damilola Adebgite (Mnet’s Tinsel) Uti Nwachukwu, and Ivie Okujaye. Touch Media would also be employing the services of the award winning director of ‘Aramotu’ Niji Akanni. Production ensues in about a month.
9. Assassin’s Practice
‘Assassin’s Practice’ is another intercontinental collaboration in the bag for Nigerian Cinema. ‘Assassin’s Practice’ stars Justus Esiri, Kate Henshaw Nuttal, (British actor) Eve Piercing, and David Nnaji. The film is written and directed by British Nigerian Andrew Udoko and premiered in the UK on 11th May 2012. The date of a Nigerian release has not been announced.
10. Half of A Yellow Sun
Controversy trailed the casting of Thandie Newton in the upcoming film adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s award winning novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. However, Nigerians received the more recent news of Genevieve Nnaji, Zack Orji, and Onyeka Onwenu being cast alongside Newton, with a hint if ease. This flick seems like the most anticipated yet, as it also boasts of having British/Nigerian and Hollywood star, Chiwetel Ejiofor as lead. The film is said to have on its production team, Anrea Calderwood (Co-producer) The Last King of Scotland. ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ will feature original music from Cobhams Asuquo and Keziah Jones. Currently in production in Nigeria’s biggest tourist haven; Calabar hopes for this one are really high. Lets see how it pans out.
So there you have it. These are the ten flicks you should keep your eyes peeled out for in 2012.