Remember the saying, “Memories last forever.” This is the case with Kunle Afolayan, one of the best directors and filmmakers Nollywood has produced. He was raised in the industry and, at the age of 12, began travelling with his father’s crew.
Kunle has skillfully developed himself throughout the years, evolving from the young boy who followed his father for movie productions and the young man, Aresejabata, in Saworoide. As one of Nigeria’s most well-known and respected filmmakers, he displays his art with great skill and passion.
Since 2005, Kunle Afolayan has been involved in the Nigerian film industry. Since then, he has produced successful movies that have won prestigious awards domestically and abroad. He claimed in an interview that his father discouraged him from becoming a filmmaker. In his opinion, there was no financial reward. Kunle strived not to end up like his father —he wanted to make films that would stand the test of time and make him money.
A core value in the movies produced by Kunle is culture and entertainment. His movies explore universal themes carrying different meanings for each audience. Where the average Nollywood director explores well-known Nollywood thematic motifs, Kunle explores his movies in exquisite ways while conveying stories people can relate to. It is impossible to ignore Kunle’s conscious efforts to distinguish his craft from the usual fare Nollywood movies serve.
Here is a list of the best five films directed by Kunle Afolayan.
Adapted from the 2010 novel by Nigerian American Author Seffi Attah, Swallow arrived on Netflix via the streamer’s three-picture deal with Kunle Afolayan. It emerged as a vivid representation of Lagos in the 1980s, a societal group of corruption and middle-class poverty. Tolani, a young woman, struggles in an oppressive environment as she deals with her abusive boss, sad lover and materialistic friend. While she tries to balance the relationship, she must survive the poverty of the day.
Swallow tells the story of Tolani, a naive bank secretary who, after experiencing a string of professional setbacks, considers accepting her roommate’s offer to become a drug mule in mid-1980s Lagos. Tolani, however, experiences a crisis of conscience and is forced to embark on a self-discovery journey as she questions her morals in the atmosphere of a brutal military administration. How far is Tolani willing to go to maintain her dignity while getting by in life?
Mokalik is a family drama different from the usual. It follows the life of an 11-year-old boy, Ponmile, from a middle-class suburb who spends the day as a lonely apprentice at the mechanic workshop and is forced to view life from the other side. The movie explains how we often fail to see life in different dimensions.
It brings to our focus the life that we dismiss, dreams, aspirations, life challenges and how humanity bonds us together. The movie deals with multiple issues in the characters’ lives. It manifested the larger society, work rivalry, teenage pregnancy, and African parenting in the lower-income sector. This movie is for you if you want a feeling of good family drama, different from the regular Yoruba Nollywood movies about family problems.
A Naija Christmas
A Naija Christmas is a 2021 romantic comedy in Nigeria Christmas which tells the story of a single mother engaged in the independent lives of her three adult sons. The story surrounds the idea of a mother wanting her sons to settle down and satisfy her only by begetting grandchildren. After experiencing peer pressure from church members, the mother decides to set an ultimatum. The house they live in will be inherited by the rightful son, who decides to settle down with a woman on the day of Christmas eve.
On a journey with these characters, the movie is a rollercoaster ride of love, drama and joy. We see a happily-ever-after when the story takes different turns through different events. The misunderstanding and fights between the brothers just to meet up with the ultimatum cannot be set aside. Enjoy this Naija romantic comedy if you wish to leave your troubles behind.
Kunle Afolayan is an expert in telling relatable stories and citation, a drama about sexual assault on college campuses justifies this fact. Although the movie is not the first against this widespread issue, it produces a different angle rarely seen by the rest of the world. The movie depicts an environment where rape culture has been normalised due to the oppressive stereotypes related to gender and sexuality. The location of the movie also expressed the themes of the movie excellently.
The movie centres on a smart and determined student, Moremi, who accuses celebrated Professor Lucian N’Dyare of sexual assault. The story unfolds as University authorities listen to testimony from Moremi, the accused and other witnesses. Flashbacks reveal Moremi’s life, foregrounding the complexities of her claim as her experiences in college and with the Professor come to life. Moremi’s story unfolds the life of a few Nigerian female college students.
Anikulapo is the latest Nigerian language drama directed by Kunle. The movie was released on Netflix on 30th September 2022. It tells a beautiful story through the eyes of the Yoruba culture and tradition. Anikulapo visualises the escapades of a traveller named Saro, who finds his way to Oyo in search of greener pastures, where he finds favour and things begin to work out for good. Unfortunately, he got caught in the web of lust, where his illicit affair with the King’s wife leads to his untimely death. He has an encounter with the mythical bird known to give and take life, but the significance of this mysterious bird isn’t explained in the movie.
Anikulapo is a story that depicts the greedy desires of men, the importance of loyalty, the dangers of pride and the poisonous nature of betrayal. It explains how everything depends on the actions we take in life and the consequences we have to live with. Aesthetically and culturally, Anikulapo is a beautiful film that introduces the global audience to Yoruba culture — the dialogue, narration, and characters were excellent. Although some things in the movie seemed unclear and confusing, the movie still deserves a watch.
For every movie produced by Kunle Afolayan, he endeavours to leave people thinking. In an interview, he said, “Whenever I want to produce a movie, I make sure that I leave people thinking, I make them ask questions, I usually don’t conclude my movies, I let viewers talk about it, I leave them wondering. I try not to entertain alone but also to get them thinking.”