Biopics aren’t common in Nollywood, but one focusing on the legendary Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti just came fresh out of the oven. Read all we know about it.

The lioness

Funmilayo: The Lioness of Lisabi spotlights revered women’s rights activist, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s life, from her high school years as the first female student at Abeokuta Grammar School, to her marriage and career as an educator. The title, lioness of Lisabi, is a cultural reference of her heroics. Lisabi was a powerful warrior from Egba, where Funmilayo was from. Even though Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is what appears on posters now, the tentative title was announced in 2021 and we hope it hasn’t changed.

Who was Funmilayo?

A Nigerian educator, socialist, political organiser, women’s rights activist and an overall “idan” of her time. Chief Funmi, as she was fondly called, formed the Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (later known as Abeokuta Women’s Union) to fight against exploitative colonial government and traditional rulers. As at 1956, Funmilayo had flown across the salts to give a public lecture in China. She was the first woman to drive a car and ride a bike in Nigeria. And let’s not forget she gave birth to Fela Kuti and former minister of health, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti.

An iconic biopic demands a solid cast

With Kehinde Bankole as the leading act, this biopic employs the professionalism of seasoned actors, Adebayo Salami, Dele Odule, Adunni Ade, Keppy Ekpenyong, Jide Kosoko, Omowunmi Dada and Joke Silva (as the older Funmilayo). 

It’s a real-life Kutis affair

Chief Funmi’s grandkids will make appearances in the film. Dotun Ransome-Kuti plays his dad, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. Kunle Ransome-Kuti plays his own dad, Fela Kuti. And Yeni Kuti acts as her aunt, Dolupo Ransome-Kuti. Femi Kuti and his son, Made, will also feature. 

Brought to life by Bolanle Austen-Peters

The “queen of Nigerian theatre” — known for directing Queen Moremi and Oluronbi, and producing Man of God (2022), Collision Course (2021) and The Bling Lagosians (2019) — secured the Kuti family’s support and production rights from the Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (FRK) estate. She’s both director and producer on this biopic.

Only in Silverbird Galleria

Lagosians would remember the Silverbird Galleria, VI, from those secondary school dates of the 2000s. Well, the venue’s cinema must be on a mission to return to their glory days as they’ve somehow secured sore authorisation to screen this biopic in Nigeria. They have it for a limited time — September 8 – 15 — so swallow your pride and go back to the favourite hangout spot of your youth.

Oscars material

Iconic in life; iconic in biopic. This movie about the life and times of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti stands a chance of making history in Nollywood as it has been submitted to the Oscars Academy for consideration. Its limited release follows the prestigious award’s requirement that reviewed films can only show in their original country for seven days. 

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