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  • Updated: March 25, 2021

Top Seven Nigerian Movie Directors

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Sydney Elike
Sydney Elike

A Graduate of Theatre Arts, Writer, Movie Buff, Filmmaker, Avid Reader, Video Game Enthusiast and a...

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We are witnessing what could be called the golden age of the Nigerian movie industry; an era of filmmakers creating phenomenal features that are getting the country the attention that it needs. These storytellers are defying the norm and exceeding boundaries, and it is only fitting that they are given the recognition they deserve.

These directors are behind some of the most successful and remarkable films in the nation's history. The uniqueness of their craft and their attention to detail has earned them a place in the list of the top filmmakers in the country. Below are seven of them.

7. Omoni Oboli

Omoni OboliOmoni Oboli

Even though she is relatively new when it comes to directing, Nollywood star Omoni Oboli has earned the number seven spot on this list because the movies she has helmed are among the highest-grossing films of all time in the country.

After studying at the New York Film Academy, Oboli distinguished herself with her stellar acting career and went further to begin working behind the camera as well. Her directorial efforts have paid off as her lowest-earning film (The First Lady) made N19,000,000 while the most successful (Okafor's Law) earned N89,740,576.

Oboli's films tell relatable human stories, capturing their desires and struggles; the very elements that make a successful filmmaker. Where they may be lacking, they are bolstered by the performances of the actors involved.

6. Jeta Amata

Jeta AmataJeta Amata

Jeta Amata is the son of veteran Nollywood actor Zack Amata. He hails from a family of filmmakers so it comes as no surprise for those who know his work that he is included in this list.

Amata grew up in the film industry as he was surrounded by those who were into it. Naturally, he became a director and made his first film when he was 21. His movie Alexa Affair debuted at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival and would establish him as one of the top filmmakers in Nigeria.

Amazing Grace, another film directed by him, was released in 2006 and won him the Best West African Film Award in the 2006 Screen Nations Awards UK. Additionally, the film became the first in Nollywood history to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

He may not have released any film in recent times but we know that whenever he does make a movie, it's always worth the wait.

5. Ishaya Bako

Ishaya BakoIshaya Bako

He is a Nigerian film director and screenwriter born in Kaduna. After attending the London Film School, he went on to write and direct the award-winning Braids on a Bald Head (2010).

Bako also won the Best Short Film Award at the 8th Africa Movie Academy Awards. His film The Royal Hibiscus Hotel (2017) was screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

READ ALSO: The Seven Best Nollywood Movies On Netflix Now (March 2021)

With his films, he has emerged as one of the relevant voices of his generation. Added to these, two of his movies have a place in the list of the most successful films in Nigeria. They are Road to Yesterday (2015), which earned N30,000,700, and The Royal Hibiscus Hotel with N59,000,000.

4. Tunde Kelani

Tunde KelaniTunde Kelani

In a career spanning four decades, Tunde Kelani has made movies that promote Nigeria's rich cultural heritage, and are rooted in education, entertainment, and the promotion of culture.

Influenced by the rich Yoruba culture and tradition, he attended the London Film School where he learned the art of filmmaking. He discovered the relationship between literature and drama and subsequently adopted literary works as a model for his filmmaking.

Kelani's movie Dazzling Mirage ( 2014) holds the number 84 spot in the list of Nollywood's highest-grossing film, earning N13,000,000. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Olayinka Abimbola and tells the story of a sickle cell patient who has to deal with the various social and emotional challenges she is faced with.

3. Niyi Akinmolayan

Niyi AkinmolayanNiyi Akinmolayan

Arguably one of the most versatile filmmakers in Nollywood today, Niyi Akinmolayan is known for directing The Wedding Party 2 (the third most successful film in Nigeria with a gross of N433,197,377).

Akinmolayan worked as a graphic designer, web designer, and apprentice to Nollywood filmmakers before he started honing his skills in video editing, animation, and visual effects.

From comedies to suspenseful thrillers and dramatic features, his movies stand out due to his distinguished storytelling technique. One of his most notable films, The Set Up (2019) occupies the 36th position in the list of highest-earning films in Nollywood history with a gross of N53,305,115.

2. Kemi Adetiba

Kemi AdetibaKemi Adetiba

Kemi Adetiba's works speak for themselves. She will always be remembered for directing one of the most remarkable romance films in Nollywood, The Wedding Party (which is currently the second most successful movie in the nation's history).

The Wedding Party was the most successful film in Nollywood history before it was displaced by Funke Akindele's Omom Ghetto (the latter has amassed a whopping N628,433,370).

Adetiba isn't restricted to any particular genre as shown in another film she helmed, King of Boys (a wonderful drama released in 2018) also has a place on the list of the most successful films in Nollywood, having earned N244,775,758.

A graduate of the New York Film Academy, her professionalism and talents show in her movies. For these reasons, she takes the number two spot on our list.

1. Kunle Afolayan

Kunle AfolayanKunle Afolayan

Six of his films are among Nollywood's most successful movies, and he has become Netflix's darling; making features exclusively for the streaming platform.

Not many can boast of the kind of achievements that award-winning director named Kunle Afolayan has. He helped in reviving the cinema culture in Nigeria just when it seemed the country no longer had anything good to offer in terms of quality films. Since then, it has only been an upward climb for this outstanding filmmaker.

Like many of his peers, Afolayan honed his filmmaking skills at the New York Film Academy. His ability to tell captivating stories is in his very genes (he is the son of the late theatre and film director Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan fondly called Ade Love. His films educate, enlighten, entertain, and are thought-provoking.

The Figurine: Araromire (2009), his first cinematic feature, won five awards and was critically and commercially successful. His latest film, Citation is currently streaming on Netflix and deals with sexual harassment in Nigerian universities. 

As a director, Afolayan's expertise is unrivaled, and he shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to making magical movies.



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Sydney Elike
Sydney Elike

A Graduate of Theatre Arts, Writer, Movie Buff, Filmmaker, Avid Reader, Video Game Enthusiast and a...

More From this Author


Kunle Afolayan
Kunle Afolayan

Kunle Afolayan is a Nigerian actor, film producer and director.

Kemi Adetiba
Kemi Adetiba

One of the foremost filmakers in Nigeria

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