It has been an interesting year for Nollywood, and indeed Nigerian entertainment in general. Netflix seems to have some kind of strategy in place for a growing demand and is implementing it with an aggressive system of acquiring the most meaningful Nollywood films it can find. The massive media company began with claiming Lionheart as an original back in September 2018. Netflix scooped up the film the day before it premiered at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival. Today, Lionheart is Nigeria’s first submission to the Oscars (Best International Feature Film category).
Netflix clearly has an eye for quality. It tells you a lot when you consider the fact that Up North is Netflix’s most recent acquisition. Screenwriter and co-producer of the film, Editi Effiong, made the announcement last week on social media: Netflix has acquired streaming rights to the 2018 drama, Up North, and the film will officially be available to view on the platform from the 18th of October.
Up North is a coming of age film about a young and arrogant heir who is sent to Bauchi for one compulsory year of National Service. The film features Banky W as the main character, Bassey, who grows with the progression of the film until finally, in the end, he is a more mature and rounded individual because of his experiences in Northern Nigeria. Up North is important because it highlights issues that are scarcely discussed. It shines a light on life in the North, and on the life-changing possibilities of stepping out of your comfort zone. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Banky W confessed that spending time in the North to film this movie has really given him a new perspective of things:
“Living in Lagos and growing in that part of the country, the North almost feels like another country. It gave me the opportunity to see the beauty and live with the people for a month. In fact, one of my favourite moments was when we went to Yankari Game Reserve and I got to see giraffes and other animals I didn’t know were in the country. Seeing the festival (Durbar) was another experience.”
Up North was directed by Tope Oshin and written by Edit Effiong. Edit Effiong is also CEO of Anakle, a digital agency that co-produced Up North alongside Inkblot Productions. The film was released on the 28th of December 2018. It stars Ibrahim Suleiman as Sadiq, sidekick to the main character, and Michelle Dede as Idara, sister to the main character. Sadiq and Michelle both bring interesting dynamics to the film that make you think even as you are entertained. Sadiq, for example, is a young man who has lived in the North all his life. The mentality of his character is a fitting contrast to the character of Bassey, who has always lived abroad and in the South. In one scene, Sadiq has to explain to Bassey that it is not proper in the North to carelessly approach a woman.
If you missed Up North when it was showing in cinemas last year, you can catch it on Netflix next week.
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Featured Image Source: Pulse NG