Genevieve Nnaji was always an icon but after her latest exploit, it is safe to call her an A-plus living legend. Nnaji's self-financed "Lionheart" was bought by Netflix and this is a ceiling smashing power-movie everyone should be excited about. Netflix is the new frontier of the entertainment industry and Genevieve has barged right into the main action. Now you will be able to Netflix an African original and chill!
On CNN's Quest Means Business, Nnaji explained why Lionheart became the breakout Nollywood needed. She said the film provided an environment where she could showcase the things that made her proud of her culture, talents and values. In addition to that, she added one ingredient most African films are simply failing to: a focus on quality. No one can blame most of these filmmakers as they are running on very low budgets, an expectation of low returns and thus little to no incentive to invest in quality productions. However, Nnaji and her team beat the curve by simply funding their project themselves and putting the decades of experience into use. The commitment has paid dividends and Lionheart has become the first film to be owned by Netflix. Netflix has, however, previously licensed Nollywood films like record-breaking The Wedding Party and October 1 after screening in cinemas. However, a Netflix original is bound to have a stronger marketing push behind it and that is where Lionheart strikes gold.
In Lionheart, industry stalwarts, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu and Pete Edochie join Nnaji who plays Adaeze, a lady forced to work with her uncle to save her father's failing bus company. The film synopsis says the Lionheart touches on everyday sexism that saturates workplaces and "the delicate balance between honoring one's family while finding the courage to strike out on one's own". Lionheart is a participating film in the Toronto International Film Festival which runs until the 16th of September.
The film is a boon for the film industry in Nigeria. Nnaji told BBC Newsday that she was happy for the industry and the film was vindicating. Charles Unwugbia, a Nolloywood filmmaker's words are perhaps the most poignant: It's a good sign. Pointing to the induction of Nigerians into the Oscars jury, Unwugbia says, "...this means that Nollywood's Oscar dream is here."
Header Image Credit: Film Still - Pulse