Top 10 Movie Directors In Nigeria
Just like every other responsibilities, The success and failure of any movie is often down to the talent and skills of the Director of the movie. It’s been known that they interpret screenplay and transport it to the screen with visual effects and dramatization. Directors are held responsible for guiding the actors and the crew to achieve their desired result to fulfill each mission. The Director mostly choose the cast he wants, design of the production and makes key choices relating to the creative aspects of filmmaking and cinematography.
For a Directorial work to be a success, He/She must have a vast knowledge of filmmaking and cinematography process as well as an extraordinary creative streak to translate ideas into movies. It is often of the director to receive great critical acclaim if a movie is a success, it is also them who faces the brunt of the criticism for the failure of any of their directed movies. Therefore, the directorial job is a difficult one and not all succeed in this role. However, there are some directors who have become famous for the success of their films, received numerous awards and are widely acclaimed.
Below here are our picks for the top best directors in Nigeria, In relation to the world’s rank, Nollywood is reported next after bollywood when it comes to the world’s largest movie industry by volume, producing close to millions of movies annually. At first it started off as being referred to as ‘home videos’ but now has grown excessively to be acknowledged as Nollywood. It started its operation since way back in the mid 20th century but wasn’t well accredited till about early 21st century. However its fame and excellency aren’t based on the film makers alone but also to the Nigerians living in diaspora, as they are able to connect what was going on in the country while they travel with film recordings.
Gone are the days were white collar jobs are being prioritized over pursuing a career in arts as Nollywood of present is worth about $5.1billion which makes up 5% of Nigeria GDP. With the increased interest and ever growing profit of African arts and entertainment, many Nigerians have seen filmmaking and cinematography as a viable profession to engage into.
Our Top 10 Picks are:
10. Tade Ogidan
Born and brought up in Surulere a suburb of Lagos State on July 1960. He is a Nigerian Film and Television screenwriter, Producer and a Director. He was born into a middle clan parents of Mr Akinola and Mrs Rachael’s. He had his elementary school education in the mid 20th century at Government Demonstration School and Surulere Baptist School, both in Surulere, Lagos. Between 1972 and 1974, he attended secondary school at Ekiti Parapo College, Ido-Ekiti, and graduated at Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School, Ikeja, Lagos, in 1978. From 1979, Ogidan attended Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM, USA. He completed a short stint at the State University of New York, in Buffalo, NY, USA.
After the completion of his National Youth Services Corp program in 1983, he became a full-time Producer/Director with NTA Channel 10, and a Continuity Announcer with NTA 2 Channel 5, both in Lagos, Nigeria. Ogidan spent 8 years with the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA 10, NTA 2 Channel 5 and NTA National Network Service and projects). While at NTA, he produced and directed several movie episodes such as Play Of The Week, Tele Theatre, Legal Angles and lots more.
In I990, he left NTA to establish himself, he became the MD/CEO of OGD Pictures and OGD Music Ltd, a media production company. The first production under the company was titled Hostages, one of the movies that rocked in the 90s. Subsequently, he produced the popular Owo Blow, 1995; the movie that shot Femi Adebayo to limelight. Since then, Tade has continued to write, produce and direct blockbuster films.
Some of his Films include; Owo Blow, 1995, Out of Bounds, 1997, 7 to 12, 1997, Hostages, 1998, Diamond Ring, 1998, Saving Alero, 2002, Ayomida, 2003, Playing Games, 2012, Dangerous Twins, 2004, Aya mi Owon: Madam Dearest, 2005, Family on Fire, 2011, Gold Statue, 2019 and lot more others.
Some Awards And Recognition:
Tade started winning awards right from the 90s. Some of his recent recognition include; Movie of the Year ‘Gold Statue’ Best of Nollywood, 2019, Director of the Year ‘Gold Statue’, Best of Nollywood, 2019, Best Feature Film Award ‘Gold Statue’, Lekki International Film Festival, 2019 and lot more others.
9. Akin Omotoso
Akin Omotoso is a writer, actor, and director. He was born in 1974 in Nigeria and grew up in the university town of Ife where he found his first love which was writing. In 1992, his family moved to South Africa after his father accepted a lectureship at the University of the Western Cape. Omotoso enrolled for the only course at the University of Cape Town that did not require a matric exemption, the Performers Diploma in Speech and Drama. He originally intended to do drama for a year, but continued with the course before launching into the acting profession. His career plans were turned around after he was cast in Sunjata, a play directed by Mark Fleishman. He won The Fleur du Cap Award for Most Promising Student in 1995 for his role in the play and decided to pursue a career in the performing arts.
He directed the award-winning film Vaya that had its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, 2017. The film was also screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and at the inaugural Joburg Film Festival in November of the same year. The film also received the “Special Jury Prize” at the 2016 Africa International Film Festival in Nigeria. Omotoso has also directed the films Tell Me Sweet Something, Man on Ground and starred in Lord of War and Blood Diamond among other productions.
Nominations and awards:
Akin Omotoso has received nominations and won awards based on his acting and directorial skills. Some of these awards are:
- Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards
- In 2016, he won the Best Director AMVC Award for his work in Tell Me Sweet Something. The same year, he was also nominated for the Best Movie Southern Africa AMVC Award for his work in the same film.
- Dubai International Film Festival
- In 2008, he was nominated for the Muhr Asia Africa Award for his work in Jesus and the Giant.
- In 2011, Akin was nominated for the Muhr Asia Africa Award for his role in Man on the Ground.
8. Ishaya Bako
Ishaya Bako birthed on 30th December 1986 is a Nigerian film director and screenwriter. He was born in Kaduna, where he lived all his life and later moved to London, where he studied at the London Film School.
After attending the London Film School, Bako went on to script and direct the movie Braids on a Bald Head which won him a space at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). He also won the Best Short Film Awards at the 8th Africa Movie Academy Awards. He is an emerging voice of his generation and a member of a select few Global Shapers, a collection of enterprising youths initiated by the World Economic Forum.
His new film, Fuelling Poverty, a documentary on poverty and fuel subsidy in Nigeria, is narrated by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. He lives in Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.
7. Tunde Kilani
Popularly known as TK (born on 26th of February 1948) is a is a Nigerian filmmaker, storyteller, director, photographer, cinematographer and producer. In a career spanning more than four decades, TK specialises in producing movies that promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and have a root in documentation, archiving, education, entertainment and promotion of the culture.
Tunde Kelani holds a Diploma in the Art and Technique of Filmmaking from the London International Film School, London. After many years in the Nigerian Film Industry as a Cinematographer, he now manages Mainframe Film & Television Productions, an outfit formed to document Nigeria’s rich culture. He has worked on most feature films produced in the country in his capacity as a Cinematographer.
Some Of Films Include:
Anikura; Ogun Ajaye; Iya Ni Wura; Taxi Driver; Iwa and Fopomoyo. In the area of video productions, he has to his credit award-winning feature videos: Ti Oluwa Nile; Ayo Ni Mo Fe; Koseegbe and Oleku and lot more others.
Nominations and Awards
- Recipient of the prestigious ‘Africa Reel Award’ at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF), California, USA in 2012.
- NMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
- Member of Emmy Awards International Jury in 2015.
- Angenieux Award (Prix du Public) at Nollywood week 2015.
- African Magic Viewer’s Choice (AMVCA) Industry Merit Award in 2018.
- Ecran d’Honneur award at the 22nd edition of the Ecrans Noirs Film Festival in July 2018.
- Elected to vote in the Directors Category of the Board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also known as ‘The Oscars’ in 2019.
- Leopold Sedar Senghor Prize for African Cultural Creativity and Impact in 2019.
6. Jade Osiberu
Jade Osiberu is an award winning film producer, screenwriter and a director. She was born on the 18th of August 1985 into the family of Oba Adewale Osiberu, the Elepe of Epe Sagamu, Ogun State. She obtained a Bachelors Degree in Computer and Systems Engineering from the University of Manchester, London in 2006. After a brief stint as a software Engineer at Neptune Software, Lagos she returned to her true passion and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Media and Communications at the Pan African University.
She served as a trainee journalist and producer at Channels Television between the year, 2007 to 2008. She was then brought to limelight after joining the Digital Marketing team at GTBank and created Ndani TV, a first-of-its-kind content marketing project that pushed the bank’s position as one of the most innovative and creative Nigerian Bank online.
She made her directorial debut with ‘Isoken’ in 2017 which made her continue her journey as a filmmaker as she launched her own production company, TRIBE85 PRODUCTIONS, with the vision of telling African stories to a global audience.
Some of her Movies Include:
Skinny Girl in Transit, The Juice to Gidi Up, Isoken and others.
Nominations and Awards:
Jade Osiberu won the best movie West Africa for her debut movie titled ” Isoken” as well as the best director for the same movie at the 2018 AMVCAs which took place at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, Nigeria.
5. Kemi Adetiba
Kemi Adetiba was born on the 8th of January, 1980 in Lagos to Dele Adetiba and Mayen Adetiba. Dele Adetiba, her father is a notable advertising and broadcasting veteran while her mother, Mayen Adetiba is the first female civil engineer to be elected into the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. Kemi Adetiba is from Ekiti state but shares the Efik blood as her mother is from Efik.
She is is a Nigerian music video director, filmmaker, and television director whose works have appeared on Channel O, MTV Base, Soundcity TV, BET, Netflix and lots more entertainment body. She is an alumna of Atlantic Hall High School in Nigeria. Kemi has a law degree from the University of Lagos, Akoka and was called to bar after one year at Nigeria Law School.
She started her professional career as a radio presenter with Rhythm 93.7 FM, where she became the voice behind two nationally syndicated hit shows: Soul’d Out and Sunday at the Seaside. Adetiba started anonymously posting personal remixes online on various applications such as Spotify and Soundcloud under the username and tag ‘hule’. She began to make a transition from being a voice on radio to being a face on television by producing and presenting several shows such as ‘Maltina Dance All’ which she anchored for three consecutive seasons (2009-2012), and this greatly contributed to her success in the industry as it exposed her to greater opportunities.
After years of success being in front of the camera, She enrolled into the New York Film Academy to learn the ropes about being behind the cameras and today, her bodies of work as a director are spread across the African continent and beyond its borders.
Some of her Works Include:
The direction of a film titled “The Wedding Party” in 2016, which was premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) same year. The movie was of a great achievement and broke box office records by raking in over ₦3.5 billion.
Kemi Adetiba is also the founder of a web documentary series; King Women. King Women mentors and inspire young women. She interviews Nigeria’s powerful women in business to understand their challenges and how they have scale in business and life.
Nominations And Awards:
- Nomination for the On-Air-Personality of the Year award by The Future Nigeria Awards in five years successively.
- First double nominee in The Future Nigeria Awards for Screen Producer/ Director of the Year in 2011.
- Best Female Video for the Song ‘Ekundayo’ by TY Bello at the 2009 SoundCity TV Music Video Awards.
- Best Female Video for the Song ‘Today na Today’ by Omawunmi at the 2010 Nigeria Entertainment Awards in New York.
- Nomination for the Best Music Video at 2010 SoundCity Awards.
- Banky W’s ‘Lagos Party’ directed by Kemi Adetiba listed Best Editing & Best Male Video nomination at 2010 SoundCity Awards and lots more.
4. Niyi Akinmolayan
Niyi Akinmolayan is a Nigerian film-maker, director and media consultant. He was born into the family of a chartered chief Broker as a Father and a late fashion designer as a mother on the 3rd of November, 1982. He is the founder and creative director of Anthill Studios, a media production facility. He hails from Ondo State, a south-west region of Nigeria. Niyi as fondly called, attended the Yaba College of Technology from 2002 -2004, where he studied Electrical/Electronics Engineering.
He started getting involved with art and media from his early years, and was also passionate about problem solving. As a result, his interest in problem solving made him attend Yaba College of Technology to study and train in Engineering. However, he soon realised the chaos in the Nigerian educational system. He discovered there were no practical sessions to aid full learning. So, he felt he was not getting the kind of training he needed and soon decided not to take the course too serious again.
He started having interest in other things which made him a regular visitor at the school library where he started reading on different books on journalism, film art, film production, and media. He grew more interest as he proceeds to start using his friend’s laptop to learn graphics designing on CorelDraw, and Photoshop. Basically, He was using every opportunity to practice and learn filmmaking, and in the process, he came across an animation software. He then finally focused more on learning film making and paid less attention to school.
Some of his Works Include:
Kajola (2010), Make A Move (2014), Ordinary People (2014), Falling (2015), Out of Luck (2015), The Arbitration (2016), Room 315 (2016), Chief Daddy (2018), The Set Up (2019), Elevator Baby (2019) and lots more others.
Nominations and Awards
- Best Movie ‘Make a Move’, Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, 2015
- Best Director ‘Falling’, Nigeria Entertainment Awards, 2016
- Director of the Year, City People Movie Award (Win), 2018
- Director of the Year, City People Movie Award (Nominee), 2019
- Best Animation ‘Malika: Warrior Queen’, African International Film Festival AFRIFF, 2019
- Best Animated Short, Independent Film Festival Awards, 2019
- And lots more others.
3. Tope Oshin
Tope Oshin is a multi-award-winning Nigerian television and film director, producer, casting director, and consultant. She is also the founder and CEO of Sunbow Productions. She was born into the family of Mr and Mrs Oshin on the 10th of June 1979 in Lagis State Nigeria. Growing up she had intended on being a painter and engaged in drawing, singing, and dancing. She had her secondary education at the Girls High School, Agege, Lagos, and Iganmode Grammar School, Ota, Ogun State.
After the completion of her secondary education, she proceeded to study Economics at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. But didn’t conclude, as she left the course to study Public Administration. She also left Public Administration for Theatre Arts, TV, and Film Production at the Lagos State University.
After obtaining her B.A degree, she then went for a short training on acting techniques, visual and performing arts at Itpan Training School, Gbagada, Lagos.Her interest filmmaking got more intense that she went further to study Film Production and Cinematography at the Colorado Film School of Aurora, Denver, CO, USA. She also studied Cinematography at Met Film School. She is also is an alumna of Talents Durban, South Africa, and Berlinale Talents, Berlin, Germany. She was once married to Yinka Ogun and is blessed with four children.
She started the walk towards her career in 2005 with R&M media, as an actress. In 2007, she became an Assistant Director at 341 Media but left to Ark Resources Entertainment the same year. She left Ark Resources to Storm Media Group as an Associate Producer/Assistant Director in 2008. She then continued with her career as a producer in 2009, with Inspire Africa Productions. She left to M-Net in 2010, and functioned in the capacity of Box and Content Producer/Director, until 2013, when she left for EbonyLifeTv where she first worked as the Acting Head of Drama and later became the Project Manager/Supervising Producer of the company.
She is now the CEO of Sunbow Productions Limited, a company that has full-service motion picture production company established by Tope Oshin in 2011. The company provides audiovisual content and production services for reality shows, radio dramas, TV dramas, features, short length films, TV commercials, radio commercials, corporate videos, etc.
Some of her Works Include:
Auditioning MTV Shuga Seasons 3, 4 and 6, Taste of Love, Walking with Shadows, Rush, Hush, Ojos in d’house, The Governor, Battleground, Journey to Self (2012), Fifty (2015), The Wedding Party 2 (2017), InLine (2017), New Money (2018), Up North (2018), We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2018), The Young Smoker (2011), Till Death Do Us Part (2013), New Horizons (2013), Crush (2014), Ireti (2015) and lots lots more others.
Nominations and Awards
- Best Directing at The Audi Visual Awards (TAVA) Lagos – 2011
- Audience Prize at the In-short film festival, Lagos – 2011
- Special Jury Mention at the In-short film festival, Lagos – 2011
- Best Director at the In-short film festival – 2012
- In-short film festival honoured her with the award of Best Film – 2012
- Best Short Film at the Abuja International Film Festival – 2012
- Slum Film Festival named the Young Smoker as Best Narrative Film – 2013
- Best International Short Film at the Womens Only Entertainment Film Festival – 2016
- At the Nigerian Broadcast Media Awards, she was named Best TV Program Director – 2016
- Distinguished Alumni Medal of Honor at the In-short film festival – 2016
- Director of The Year at the Lagos Entertainment Awards – 2016
- Best Director of the Year at the City People Entertainment Awards – 2017
- Nominated for Best Director at the In-short film festival, Lagos, Nigeria – 2011
- Best Film nominee at the In-short film festival, Lagos, Nigeria – 2011
- Most Outstanding Short Film nomination at the Audi Visual Awards (TAVA) – 2012
- Nominated for Most Outstanding Short Film at the Audi Visual Awards (TAVA) – 2012
- Best Short Film Award nomination at the Africa Movie Academy Awards – 2012
- Outstanding Film in Directing nominee at the Abuja International Film Festival – 2012
- Nominated Ireti for Best Short Film at the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards – 2017
- Best Screenplay of the Year nominee at the Best of Nollywood Awards (BON) – 2018
- Up North was nominated as the Best Nigerian Film at the Africa Movie Academy Awards – 2019
- And lots lots more awards.
2. Kunle Afolayan
Kunle Afolayan is an award-winning Nollywood actor, film-maker, movie producer and director. He is the first son of the late Adeyemi Afolayan aka Adelove. Also, Kunle is the CEO/founder of Kunle Afolayan Productions Television (KAPTv), and Golden Effects Pictures. He was born on the 30th of September 1974 in Ebutemetta, Lagos, Nigeria into the family of the late Adeyemi Josiah Afolayan, who was also a popular Nollywood theatre and film director, and producer. He had his early education and growing up in Lagos State, although, he hails from Igbomina, Kwara State, Nigeria.
After the completion of his secondary education, he went further to obtain a BSc degree in Economics. He also acquired a Diploma in digital film-making at the New York Film Academy in 2005. Kunle Afolayan is married and blessed with four children. He is one who keeps his personal life private and describes himself as a free thinker when it comes to religious beliefs.
Kunle used to be a banker and acted on a part-time basis before he eventually dived fully into the movie industry. He didn’t come to the limelight in the industry until 2005, after he quit his banking job, and became a professional filmmaker. He established his production company named Golden Effects Pictures that same year. Golden Effects Pictures is a film production company that was incorporated in July 2005. The company specializes in film production, editing, film equipment rentals, and film consulting. In addition, they strongly believe in making movies that the public love without compromising their standard.
He represented Nigeria at the Subversive Film Festival in 2011 alongside Zeb Ejiro. In May 2013, Phone Swap was premiered in France and won the Public Choice Award at the first edition of Nollywood Week, Paris. After the release of October 1, Kunle Afolayan was recognized as the producer of the second highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time.
Some of his Works:
Irapada (Redemption), The Figurine (Araromire), Phone Swap, October 1, The C.E.O, Omugwo, ROTI and The Tribunal, and the most recent Mokalik and many others.
Nomination and Awards:
- Africa Movie Academy Award nominee for Best Director – 2010
- Golden Jury award for Best Film at the Abuja International Film Festival – 2012
- Festival Prize for Outstanding Film Directing at the Abuja International Film Festival – 2012
- Nollywood Movie Award nominee for Best Director – 2013
- Nigeria Entertainment Award nominee for Actor of the Year – 2015
- Africa Movie Academy Award nominee for Best Director – 2015
- Best Movie Director at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards – 2015
- October 1 won the Best Costume Design at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) – 2015
- Best Nigerian Film October 1 at the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) – 2015
- October 1 Best Movie of 2014 at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards 2015
- An Icon in the African Entertainment Industry Award at the Afro-Heritage Broadcasting and Entertainment Awards (AHBEA) – 2016
- City People Movie Award-nominated him for Best Movie Producer of the Year (English) – 2017
- Nominated at the City People Movie Award for Movie Director of the Year (English) – 2017
- Best Film Award at the Durban International Film Festival – 2019
1. Izu Ojukwu
Izu Ojukwu is a Nigerian film director, cinematographer, scriptwriter and editor. He is an award-winning movie producer whose films have received recognition both locally and internationally. His success is as a result of his determination and self development. He is the director of the Nigerian historical fiction drama film ‘76 produced in 2016.
Izuchukwu Ojukwu was born as the fourth child of a large polygamous family of 20 children. He grew up and schooled in Jos. He attended St. John’s College, Jos, and started learning film making from school. Before then, he was making money from drawing and painting. So, he became independent from an early age. Later on, he got obsessed with photography and film; and began to see a career in them. He started visiting national and state libraries in Jos to get books on film production, especially from the National Film Institute, Jos.
For years, Izu was reading books he borrowed until people started calling him to be a resourceful person for their film production classes. In 2002, he got his first invitation as a resourceful person from Vassar College, New York to teach guerrilla film making. Eventually, he attended a film school in the United States.
Coming from a large family, he started having the thought to entertain his family during dinners, when all the children sat together to eat. So, he started making puppets and animal mask he could think of from the folktale stories his mother told him. Then, he would ask his siblings to act and walk like different animals based on his perception, using the mask. While doing this for some years in the 80s, Izu was unknowingly setting the pace for his career.
He visited cinemas to watch Indian and Chinese films from the projecting room after making friends with the projector operator. Afterwards, he constructed a projector from the sample he saw in the cinema and projected films from his father’s garage. He would gather children in the garage and make them watch his film for just a token.
Subsequently, he improved and used every opportunity to learn more. Later on, he constructed a camera, created a tripod, and made his young ones stand in front to read news. All of these was gearing him towards film making. He then proceeded to producing his first movie an igbo one in 1996 titled Moment of Bitterness. He progressed steadily to producing many more.
Some of his Works:
Moment of Bitterness (1996), A Home too Far (1997), Eva The River of Mystery (1998), Line of Duty (2003), Showdown (2000), The World is Mine (2001), Love Boat (2001), Eleventh Hour (2001), Desperadoes 1&2 (2001), Battle of Love (2003), Moving Train (2003), Across the Niger (2007), No One But You (2004), Otondo (2004), Iva (2004), GL 1&2 (2005), Sitanda (2006), Shut In (2006), Laviva (2007), Minority Tension (2007), White Waters (2007), Who Will Tell The President (2007), Cindy’s Note (2008), Distance Between (2008), Nnenda (2009), The Child (2009), Alero’s Symphony (2010), ’76 (2016), Power of 1, 2018.
Nomination and Awards:
- Best Director ‘Sitanda’ Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2007
- Best Director ‘White Waters’ Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), 2007
- The Best Nigerian Film, ‘Across The Niger’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2008
- Best Director, Best of Nollywood, 2009
- The Best Director ‘76’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2017
- Best Director ’’76‘ Africa International Film Festivals, 2017
- Overall Best Film ‘’76’ Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award, 2017
- Best Picture Director, ’’76’ Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award, 2017
- The Prix du Public (Audience Choice) awards, Nollywood Week Paris, 2017.
- Best Nigerian Film ‘Nnenda’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2010 Nomination
- The Best Nigerian Film ‘The Child’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2010 Nomination
- Best Nigerian Film ‘Alero’s Symphony’ Africa Movie Academy Award, 2012 Nomination.