There’s no denying that Nollywood movies produced in the Yoruba language witnessed an uptick in 2022 that had cinema consumers and critics SAT.
The stars leading a new vanguard
The inside players of Nollywood seem to have had a sit-down of sorts because the work rate we’re witnessing at the moment? Iconic.
Let’s start with a long-time fave, Femi Adebayo. The actor kicked off the conversation of what a re-imagined Nollywood could be with his ambitious epic action, King of Thieves (Agẹṣinkólé) which he co-wrote alongside two other writers and released in 2022.
As if that wasn’t enough, OG director, Kunle Afolayan said “Hold my cup” and released Aníkúlápó in 2022. More than a Netflix cinema release; Aníkúlápó was a cultural movement that had everybody — including the GenZs — hooked.
Weeks after the Anikulapo rave simmered down, Mo Abudu of Ebonylife Films served us the first-ever onscreen adaption of Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s 1975 play, Death and The King’s Horseman (Elesin Oba).
The leading films
King of Thieves
Co-written by Femi Adebayo, King of Thieves tells the story of Agesinkole, an all-powerful bandit, and his reign of terror in Ajeromi’s kingdom. However, there is more to Agesinkole than meets the eye. The epic action is a culture-rich masterpiece, making it all the more engaging for viewers. Adebayo Tijani and Tope Adebayo Salami directed an all-star cast that features Femi Adebayo, Toyin Abraham, Odunlade Adekola, and Ibrahim Chatta.
Kunle Afolayan’s Aníkúlápó takes viewers into the world of a covetous Saro (Kunle Remi), a man ruthless about crossing those around him for better opportunities. Aníkúlápó’s captivating storyline conveyed in the Yoruba language and rich cinematography provides a thrilling cinematic experience for viewers. Kunle Remi, Bimbo Ademoye, Sola Sobowale, among others, feature.
Directed by the late Biyi Bandele, Ẹlẹṣin Ọba (Death and the King’s Horseman) is an adaption of Wole Soyinka’s play; based on the traditional belief that a Yoruba King’s horseman must commit ritual suicide when the king dies, to help ease his affairs in the afterlife. Bandele’s adaptation portrayed the true story of Elesin Oba during British colonization in Nigeria in 1943. Ẹlẹṣin Ọba (Odunlade Adekola) was about to commit the ritual suicide but is prohibited by British colonists, who interpreted the tradition as barbaric. Odunlade Adekola, Shaffy Bello and Deyemi Okanlawon feature.
We’re still eating good in 2023
Now seven months into 2023, actors Odunlade Adekola and Femi Adebayo are set to reprise the same impressive run of 2022 with their ambitious epic-style projects.
Odunlade has whetted our appetite with his first major release of the year, Orìṣà.
Orìṣà tells the story of a rogue king who loses respect for the gods and his people and is struck with insanity. This happens at a time when a gang of highly skilled warriors formed an alliance threatening to take over his kingdom. Femi Adebayo, Shaffy Bello, Jide Kosoko, Dele Odule, among others, feature in the film.
Adebayo’s Jagun Jagun (The Warrior) is his 2023 offering and the trailer is already causing conversation in the cinema community. It will be released on Netflix in August.
Again, the actor enlists the same directors Adebayo Tijani and Tope Adebayo Salami for this action epic. Jagun Jagun tells the story of a young man who joins an elite army in his bid to become a powerful warrior and win the heart of a woman. On his quest, he attracts the wrath of a bloodthirsty warlord who feels threatened by him. Featured are stars like Adedimeji Lateef, Bimbo Ademoye, Fathia Balogun, and Mr Macaroni.