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TV and Movies

5 Must Watch African Centered Movies Streaming on Netflix (January 2019)

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We are tickled with excitement as more and more African stories make their way into streaming giant platforms like Netflix. As African stories are told by Africans, the world can take a sneak peak into our diversity.

ALSO READ:10 African Movies Streaming On Netflix (September 2016)

So with that said, let’s get right into it. Here is my short list of movies that you should check out this month. My picks are from 2017/2018 releases only, however, there are many more exciting movies from prior years that have been added to Netflix’s growing African Movie genre. I want to know what you think and if there are other notable mentions that I missed, please let me know. 

#1 – Lionheart: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is Nollywood’s first ever Netflix original … AND it is really a BIG deal for the industry; Certainly one to watch. It is a refreshing story and worth making an evening of it.

  • Directed By: Genevieve Nnaji
  • Starring: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie

Lionheart Synopsis

In order to save her father’s ailing bus company, competent but perennially overlooked Adaeze must find a way to work alongside feckless uncle Godswill, in the sharp and comically observed directorial debut from Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji. 

Determined to fight her way to the top, but not wanting to go against her father’s wishes, Adaeze feels like the proverbial bus has left the station without her. She must quickly shift gears, however, when she and Godswill discover that Lionheart is running on fumes, financially. Together, the unlikely duo must come together to save the company and their family name. Sharply and comically observed, Nnaji’s film deals with the everyday sexism that saturates workplaces everywhere, and captures the delicate balance between honoring one’s family while finding the courage to strike out on one’s own.

Lionheart Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1ox7WLbQrQ

#2 – Sarah’s Notebook: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

This is one of those impactful social dramas that will awaken the western conscience. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles and takes you on a journey into the darkest sides of human nature.

  • Directed By: Norberto Lopez Amado
  • Starring: Belén Rueda, Marian Álvarez, Iván Mendes

Sarah’s Notebook Synopsis

Laura has been looking for years for her sister Sarah, who disappeared in the middle of the Congo jungle. Neither the NGO for which she worked nor the Embassy had news of her whereabouts… until a photo of a mining town in Eastern Congo appears with the blurred image of Sara. Without hesitation, Laura travels to Kinshasa ready to enter the territory of the warlords, leaving behind the differences that separated her from her sister.

She goes through an unsuspecting journey that reveals and reveals disturbing, violent and hidden backrooms of some great Western powers operating in Africa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQrPyiBcjEM&t=13s

#3 – Catching Feelings: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This South African movie captures a South African couple’s relationship and life. It is a captivating ‘dramedy’ as someone put it certainly makes our list. What I like about this movie is that it takes you into what contemporary South African life could look like.

  • Directed By: Kagiso Lediga
  • Starring: Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi, Andrew Buckland

Catching Feelings Synopsis

Catching Feelings is a dark romantic comedy which follows an urbane young academic and his beautiful wife, as their lives get turned upside down when a celebrated and hedonistic older writer moves into their Johannesburg home with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPVEHBjTxnY

#4 – He Even Has Your Eyes: Released 2017 (Watch It Here)

This subtitled French movie uses humor to explore the racial, cultural and social challenges that come with interracial adoption. Thing is people have gotten ‘almost’ comfortable with the idea that white parents can adopt black children even though I suspect there are still raised eyebrows and challenges as these parents go about their business of raising their child. What is rarer to find are black African parents adopting white children and that is the backdrop of this movie which explores this topic with comedy while tackling very legitimate challenges and issues along the way.

  • Director: Lucien Jean-Baptiste
  • Stars: Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Aïssa Maïga, Zabou Breitman

He Even Has Your Eyes Synopsis

In their mid-thirties, Paul and Sali, a Parisian couple of Caribbean and West African origin, are happily married and the proud new owners of a flower shop. The only cloud on their horizon is the long wait to adopt a child. Just when the couple has given up hope, the adoption agency calls with good news. The couple’s new baby boy is six months old, his name is Benjamin, he’s beautiful, he has lovely blue eyes…and he’s white. Director and star Lucien Jean-Baptiste explores what race and ethnicity mean when it comes to being a family; where love is concerned, do they mean anything at all?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNuKbk01ZA

#5 – Black Panther: Released 2018 (Watch It Here)

I want to believe that every one of our readers has watched this movie, but I suspect there are still a few that just didn’t care about all the fuss this movie made when it was released last year. Well I have it here to nudge you a little to check it out. It is now on Netflix so you don’t have to deal with any crowds and you can just immerse yourself in the story in the privacy of your home.

  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Staring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira
  •  

Black Panther Synopsis

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

ALSO READ: The Looks That Afronized The Black Panther Hollywood Movie Premiere

What Are Your Favorites This Month?

Just so you know, there are some really good movies out there but for this short list, I didn’t go further than 2017 even though I was itching to. So please share some of your favorite movies.

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TV and Movies

Nollywood Movie Featuring Beverly Naya and Mawuli Gavor Premieres At Cannes Film Festival

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Nigerian movies are gradually gaining recognition on the international stage. Every year, filmmakers from around the world attend the Cannes Film Festival to showcase their works cut across all genres. Consequently, Nigeria’s romantic movie, ‘Two Weeks In Lagos’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Two Weeks In Lagos’ is one of the two African movies to screen at the event. The other is ‘Atlantics’ by Matip Diop, a Senegalese French director. The Kathryn Fasegha’s directorial was screened at the Pavillion Afriques dedicated to Pan-African film industry on Friday, May 17. A worldwide screening will follow subsequently. The award-winning writer and director said,

“I am very excited to be at the Cannes Film Festival. For me, it’s not just about directing a movie, it is also exciting to see my movie placed at one of the biggest film platforms in the world.”

Now in its 72nd edition, the Cannes Film Festival opened on the 14th of May and will end on May 25. The Canadian-based filmmaker thanked everyone that contributed to the success of ‘Two Weeks In Lagos’.

“The Cannes film festival is one where movies from different parts of the world are showcased to promote film making. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to bringing this movie to life, from the cast to the crew and everyone indeed.”

A peek into ‘Two Weeks In Lagos’

Two Weeks In Lagos’ captures the vibrant and exciting everyday life in Lagos. However, it also portrays the complexity of the city where anything is possible within a short time. The movie follows the turbulent and thrilling romantic relationship existing between Lola (Beverly Naya) and Ejikeme (Mawuli Gavor).

https://www.instagram.com/twoweeksinlagos/?utm_source=ig_embed

Ejikeme is an investment banker in the United States. However, his path cross with Lola when he comes home (Nigeria) to invest. Theirs is a case of love at first sight. However, they have to fight the sinister motive of Ejikeme’s mother who is making plans for him to marry the only daughter of a political juggernaut, Otumba Ayodeji.

Ayodeji is making plans to pick Ejikeme’s father as his running mate for the Presidency. A clash of interest between Ejikeme and his mother also puts Lola’s family in danger. Other casts of the movie include Joke Silva, Jide Kosoko, Toyin Abraham, and Shaffy Bello. Consequently, Mawli Gavor, Beverly Naya, and Joke Silva are in France for the premiere.

Matip Diop’s Atlantics

Unlike ‘Two Weeks In Lagos’, Matip Diop’s ‘Atlantics’ also made history at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie screened in the Palme d’Or on the 16th of May. Palme d’Or is a competition segment of the film festival. Consequently, in the 72 years history of the Cannes Film Festival, this is the first time an African movie will be screening in this category. Reacting to this development, Diop said,

“It’s pretty late and it’s incredible that it is still relevant. My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019. But if for some young black female film directors I can represent a new dynamic, I’m obviously extremely happy.”

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Nigeria’s Uzo Aduba Plays First Black Female Congress Member In Upcoming FX Series

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Uzo Aduba, the Nigerian-American sensational actress will play Shirley Chisholm in upcoming FX series, ‘Mrs. America’. Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to gain entry into the United States Congress. From 1969 to 1983, she represented New York’s 12th congressional district. However, this is not the only ‘first’ in her record. Breaking the news on her official Instagram page @uzoaduba she said,

“Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Excited to share! Link in bio”

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first black candidate to run for president of the United States under the Democratic platform. Joining Uzo Aduba in this epic series are Sarah Paulson, Rose Byrne, James Marsden, and Cate Blanchett.

A peek into Mrs. America

Mrs. America tells the story of how a group of conservative women fought for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Undoubtedly, this is one of history’s toughest cultural wars. Leading the war was Phyllis Schlafly, a role played by Oscar-winning actress, Blanchett. However, the culminating events changed the political landscape forever. It also led to the rise of the Moral Majority.

Dahvi Waller, the Emmy-winning producer will also be the executive producer of Mrs. America. Waller will share this role with Blanchett, Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, Coco Francini, and Stacey Sher. The directors of the first two episodes will be Boden and Fleck. The duo is famous for co-writing and directing Captain Marvel. Mrs. America will premiere as a nine-episode series. However, there is no release date for the series just yet.

Uzo Aduba’s career and awards

Uzo Aduba came to limelight in 2007 after starring in ‘Coram Boy’. She is currently the first actress to win an Emmy in drama and comedy. She won the 2014 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for her role in Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black’. The following year she won the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The other person to have won Emmy in comedy and drama is Ed Asner. However, these are not her only achievements.

Uzo Aduba has also won the SAG Award in 2015 and 2016 for Best Actress in Comedy. Three times, she has won the Best Ensemble in a Comedy (2015, 2016, and 2017). This is a rare opportunity to tell the story of past heroes to future generations.

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Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman To Play Yasuke, The First Black Samurai

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The popular opinion is that only Asians become samurai. Apparently, there were a few non-Asian samurais in history. However, the person that started it all was Yasuke, the first black samurai. The story of Yasuke has been a secret for a long time. However, that is about to change. Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, will play the role of Yasuke. According to a report on Deadline, Boseman said,

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best-kept secrets. That’s not just an action movie… That’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”

Yasuke’s biography

Perhaps, one of the best insights into the personality of Yasuke is through the book by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard. The book is titled “African Samurai: The True Story, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan”. According to the book, Yasuke was taken from his village. Subsequently, he was sent to India to work for the Portuguese. However, he came to Japan in 1579 working as the bodyguard of Alessandro Valignano, a powerful Portuguese Jesuit missionary.

Furthermore, to get favor from warlord Oda Nobunaga, Valignano offered Yasuke as “a weapon bearer and novelty” to Nobunaga. Impressed by Yasuke’s loyalty, Nobunaga gave him a prestigious samurai status. Consequently, as a samurai, he was revered by everyone around him. According to the biographers, “People in the streets did not only gape at him. They bowed, heads to the earth, as they addressed him.” However, there is a slightly different version of the biography according to Deadline.

“Yasuke was a native of Portuguese Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. [Consequently] the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner. [However] a complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect—and ultimately, the honour, swords, and title of samurai.”

Movie development

Yasuke is a 16th-century Japanese samurai. However, the talk about the STX film dates back to 2017. Stephen L’Heureux and Mike De Luca were co-producing a movie on Yasuke’s story at that time. According to Deadline, Doug Miro (‘Narcos’ co-creator) was in charge of the script writing.

However, this is not the first time Boseman will be starring in biographical movies. He featured in ‘Get On Up’ (as James Brown), ‘42’ (as Jackie Robinson), and ‘Marshall’ (as Thurgood Marshall). However, fingers are already pointing at Boseman’s next project, ’21 Bridges’. He will be playing a detective hunting down a pair of cop killers. The Black Panther star is already becoming a fan’s favourite.

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