By Chinasa Afigbo
The African movie industry has seen an influx of female producers in the last 8 years, a movement that has brought versatility and inclusiveness to our screens. Interestingly, these women continue to enhance our stories for global consumption. Through their work, we see why representation matters, they unapologetically challenge norms with authenticity, yet are compassionate in their delivery.
In no particular order, Potpourri highlights some of the most inspiring female directors and producers representing Africa on the front lines.
Mosunmola Abudu who is popularly known as Mo Abudu has become a reputable household name in the Nigerian movie industry, and Africa at large. In 2017, she was described by the Hollywood Reporter’s annual list as the ‘25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television alongside Angelica Guerra, a Latin American, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner from the United Kingdom. Her explicit ingenuity has given birth to top Nollywood blockbusters like ‘The Wedding Party franchise, ‘Fifty,’ ‘The Royal Hotel Hibiscus.’ Abudu was also responsible for some TV productions including, ‘Desperate Housewives Africa,’ ‘Sons of the Caliphate,’ and ‘Fifty the Series.’In June 2020, Netflix signed a new deal with Abudu’s production company EbonyLife; to produce a film adaptation of Death and the King’s Horseman, a play by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, and a series based on Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.
Wanuri Kahiu is a Kenyan film director and producer recognized for her indepth creativity. According to CNN, she is considered to be “one of Africa’s most aspiring directors, being part of a new, vibrant crop of talents representing contemporary African culture”. Her first feature film, From a Whisper in 2008, received a total of 12 nominations and earned five awards at the 5th Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2009. Among other nominations, the film was nominated for the Best Picture Award, Best Screenplay Award, and Best Director Award. It ended up winning in all three categories. Wanuri engages with Africanfuturism, both in her artistic creation and inspiration.
Wanuri has produced and directed over 16 movies, such as her 2018 groundbreaking LGBTQ movie Rafiki which shut down the 2018 Cannes film festival in France, as the first Kenyan film to be screened at the festival. Kahiu’s documentary For Our Land documents Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Wangari Maathai. Maathai’s filmed biography takes part in the M-Net series “The Great Africans”
Chinoye Chukwu is a Nigerian-American director and the first black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the largest independent US film festival Sundance. Her most recent film, Clemency, following the psychological struggles of an executioner, was heartbreakingly devastating and touched the hearts of critics and audiences. Chukwu’s ability is undeniable and she’s certain to have more impactful work to come. Among other movies, she has produced The Dance Lesson, the long walk and Igbo Kwenu!
Kemi Adetiba is a Nigerian movie producer who fast-tracked her way into the movie industry after several TV shows and music videos.
Her first feature film “The Wedding Party” (a Nigerian Rom-com film) premiered on the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), 2016. The graduate of the New York Film Academy was once an On-Air Presenter and TV show host whose works have appeared on Rhythm 93.7 FM, Channel O, MTV Base, Soundcity TV, M-Net, and BET. Aside, the wedding party, she is the producer of one of the highest-grossing Hollywood movies, King of boys and Netflix’s first Original Series from Nigeria, King of Boys.
Genevieve Nnnaji is a veteran multi-award-winning Nigerian actress turned producer who has been applauded for her contributions to the Nollywood industry. She entered the production line in 2016 as co-producer to a movie she also featured in, ‘Road to Yesterday’, later winning Best Movie Overall-West Africa at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.
In 2018, she made her directorial debut with the movie, ‘Lionheart.’ The movie became the first Nollywood movie to be acquired by Netflix before its release. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was the first Nigerian submission for the Oscars.
Bolanle Austen-Peters is a media and theatre mogul whose plays have travelled to London’s West-end, South Africa and Egypt. Her high-demand cinema movies ’93 Days’ and ‘Bling Lagosians’ were selected for Toronto International Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. She is the founder and Managing Director of the renowned Arts and Cultural organization, Terra Kulture; the foremost Nigerian Art and Culture centre located in Lagos, Nigeria. Her movie and Theatre company, BAP Productions has produced musicals, including, Moremi The Musical, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, The Oluronbi Musical, and most recently Death and The King’s Horseman. Her first Netflix original movie, ‘The Man of God’ is yet to be released this year.
Nicole Amarteifio is an acclaimed TV/Film producer cited in The Financial Times “Top 25 Africans to Watch” list, after a successful launch of her hit web series ‘An African City’, dubbed by CNN and the BBC as “Africa’s answer to Sex and the City”. The show hit 1 million views within the first several weeks of its release and has been considered one of Ghana’s most successful YouTube channels. In 2018 she premiered her first feature film “Before the Vows” at the New York African Film Festival, followed by the American Black Film Festival, the Pan-African Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival and the AFI Silver New African Film Festival.
Eleanor Nabwiso is Uganda’s foremost award-winning female producer, who has created a niche as a woman in the male-dominated movie industry of Uganda. She has been recognised with awards from home and abroad, such as the London Arthouse Film Festival Award, Africa Focus Award for Best Feature Film, both for her film Bed of Thorns. Eleanor made the first-ever all-female crew movie in Uganda that claimed the best script/screenplay in the 2019 Uganda Film Festival. She continues to motivate young women to seek careers in new fields