While there are certain aspects of film-making they can’t always be controlled, ultimately it is the skill of the director that determines whether a movie is good or bad. In making this list of the greatest modern Nollywood directors, our criteria was: that the director must still be actively making movies/ tv series and only movies & tv series from the last 10 years are considered in the ranking of the directors.
Filmography matters. But the more important considerations that we made to come up with this list were: Is the director at the top of his or her game? Is his/her next movie awaited by critics and audiences alike? And does he/she have the ability to experiment and improve the horizons of African cinema?
Here’s our list
8. Tope Oshin Ogun: Tope has worked in TV and Film as a Director, Producer, Actor, Dialogue Coach and Casting Director. She also studied Theatre Arts, TV and Film Production from the Lagos State University, Ojo and finished as The Best Graduating Student in 2000, and for further development was recently one of the 300 participants at Berlinale Talents 2015, selected out of over 2,500 applications from filmmakers in 150 countries across the world.
She was the only female Director on M-Net’s multiple awards winning multi-cam daily soap opera ‘Tinsel’ in the first 5 season and shot about 350 episodes of the show.
She was featured on CNN’s Inside Africa while directing the feature-length movie titled ‘Journey To Self’, and on German TV, DW Deutshe Welle TV, while attending Berlinale 2015. She currently directs the much talked about Hotel Majestic while working underground developing her next film projects.
7. Michelle Bello: In 2007, Michelle produced and directed her first feature film Small Boy set in Lagos Nigeria. The film became an instant success in the US as out of 400 films, it was nominated for two awards at the American Black Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2008 for the Heineken Red Star Award for Innovation in Film and the Target Filmmaker Award for Most Inspirational Film. On home territory, Small Boy went on to win two AMAA for Best Art Direction and Best Young Child Actor in April 2009. In September 2012, she produced and directed her second feature film Flower Girl which became Nigeria’s hit romantic comedy in February 2013. The movie won Best African Film – Black International Film Festival U.K 2013 and t the Trailblazer Award – Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards 2014.
6. Ikechukwu Onyeka: has produced and directed some of the biggest Nollywood stars – from Genevieve Nnaji to Stella Damasus, to Mercy Johnson, Patience Ozokwo, to Tonto Dike, Ramsey Nouah, among other leading stars. He has earned respects and accolades from some of the major players in the industry because of the professionalism he brings to bear on his job. He has produced/directed blockbuster flicks like Mr & Mrs, Unforeseen, Eagle’s Bride, Slave To Lust, Warrior’s Heart, The Captain, Corporate Maid, Intimidation and many more. Mr. Onyeka also co-directed Reloaded and A Private Storm. On his return from the Colorado Film School, he directed Brother’s Keeper which won 13 awards.
5. Mildred Okwo is a film director and producer. She was nominated for Best Director award at the 4th Africa Movie Academy Awards. In 2012 she directed the romance comedy-drama film The Meeting which won several awards including Nigeria Entertainment Awards, Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMVCA & Nollywood Movies Awards. Mildred is currently working on a new movie Surulere; and once again, she has brought together a great cast for the movie.
4. Tunde Kelani is a filmmaker, storyteller, director, photographer, cinematographer, and producer. His career spans more than four decades, TK specialises in producing movies that promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and have a root in the documentation, archiving, education, entertainment and promotion of the culture.
He is also known for his love of adaptation of literary material into movies as most of his works have followed that style of filmmaking including Ko se Gbe, Oleku, Thunder Bolt, The Narrow Path, White Handkerchief, Maami and Dazzling Mirage.
3. Kunle Afolayan: Kunle has shown great tenacity and an unrepentant refusal to fit into the usual mould of “Nollywood” film making. By paying great attention to detail, giving creative interpretation to the issues of life; and by the almost-uncanny ability to bring his subject to life on film, Kunle Afolayan, though young, has earned the respect and honour that is accorded to ‘elders’ within and beyond the industry. He has produced and directed successful and widely acclaimed feature films, namely Irapada (Redemption) and The Figurine- Araromire, “Phone Swap” and the multiple Award winning October 1.
The works of Kunle Afolayan and Golden Effects (his production studio) has garnered acclaim and set box office records to unprecedented acclaim and have been featured and showcased variously at international film festivals across the globe.
London Film Festival – 2007 Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles – 2007 Women of Colour Film Festival – 2008 London Africa Film Festival – 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival, Nederlands – 2010 Berlinale Film Festival, Berlin Germany – 2010 Tarifa International Film Festival, Spain – 2010 New York African Film Festival, NY – 2010 Amakula Kampala Film Festival – 2010.
2. Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen is a social crusader who believes he can inform, rehabilitate and transform the society through his works. Lancelot has over two hundred successful movies to his credit including:Issachaba (a trilogy), Games Men Play, Games Women Play, Emotional Cracks, Private Sin, Critical Sin, He is also credited to have directed more award winning actors than most of his counterparts in Nollywood. Stars like Zack Orji, Mofe Damijo, Stephanie Okereke, Dekore Egbuson and Chioma Chukwuka have won awards from films directed by Lancelot. Some of his awards and achievements include: 2009 : Best Director Award: Edo Leadership Awards (USA); 2010: Best Director: TARACOTA Awards; 2010: Best Director: TIMA Awards (The Indigenous Movie Awards); 2011: Best Director: TAVA Awards (The Audio / Visual Awards); 2012: Best Director Nollywood Film Critics Awards USA; 2013: Honorary Directing Achievement Award, Golden Icons Academy Movie Awards (GIAMA).
- Jeta Amata: Coming from a family of veteran filmmakers (Ifoghale Amata, Zack Amata and Fred Amata), it is no surprise that he soars in the world of film and entertainment. Jeta, known for such movies as “The Amazing Grace”, “Alexa Affair” and “Mary Slessor”, is a renowned Nigerian filmmaker, who has received local and international acclaim. He rose to global prominence when he produced a film/documentary for the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation in 2003 using his film “Game of Life” as footage for the documentary. Debuting his movie “Alexa Affair” at the Berlin film festival in 2004 set him firmly in the minds of Nigerians and the world forever as our own Nollywood success story. Jeta’s The Amazing Grace which won the award as Best West African Film in 2006 Screen Nations Award UK is also the first Nigerian film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes film festival. Jeta’s recent credits include, Inale (A musical on an African fairy tale) and Black November (A film that chronicles the suffering of oil rich Niger Deltans of Nigeria).
He holds 53 nominations and 10 wins for film awards in Africa, Europe and the United States, and is considered one of the most successful filmmakers to come out of West Africa. Jeta Amata‘s Black November tops the recently released nomination list for the 5th edition of theNollywood and African Film Critics’ Awards.
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