With Black Panther tearing up the box office worldwide, people are beginning to look for other African films. After all, Black Panther is one of the highest grossing films of all time. If it’s that good, then other African movies must be great! Make sure your DSTV is paid up and your DSTV installation is working so you can catch these and other fantastic African movies in your home.
Sadly, this is only as true as it is here in the United States. Africa has its fair share of flops and bombs. It also has its fair share of great movies. In fact, if you’re looking for African movies then you’ve got quite a selection. Nollywod, or Nigerian Hollywood, maybe the biggest movie production area but it’s far from the only one.
If you’re curious, here are three of the top African films.
A Malian production, this film is in some ways a Hollywood movie made in Africa rather than the other way around. Telling a traditional Bambara legend, this is a classic heroic quest story. Westerners will easily recognize a world filled with magic, prophecy and some truly beautiful landscapes even though it takes place in an undefined era of Mali history.
Comparable to such heroic fantasies as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, Yeelen came out in 1987. It was a surprising hit with Western viewers as well as African viewers. It was also one of the first films to truly capitalize on Africa’s then growing home video market, where many other directors were escaping local censorship restrictions as well as opening new vistas for storytelling potential.
Yeelen might be the best African movie for someone first beginning to search for such things. The world is easy enough to understand and familiar to those who are interested, yet it’s still distinctly African.
This movie is also known as Brightness.
30 Days in Atlanta
One of the biggest Nollywood blockbusters in African history, 30 Days in Atlanta is a star vehicle for a Nigerian comedian named Ay, or Ayo Makun as his birth certificate says. The movie follows the misadventures of a Nigerian man who heads to the United States for a vacation and struggles to adapt to the alien culture.
This film set box office records in Nigeria and was a noted success of the comedy genre. This is rare in Nigeria, where the biggest box office successes are generally romances and dramas. Even the other comedies that have done well haven’t been the same kind of bawdy comedy that Ay is known for performing.
The film was blasted by critics in Nigeria for relying on cliches and stereotypes, but much like crass comedies the world over, nothing the critics said swayed audiences from loving the film.
Though nowhere near as profitable as 30 Days in Atlanta, October 1 is more a more typical Nollywood drama film. For those familiar with “Oscar-bait” films in the United States, the artistic feel of this movie will seem quite familiar.
This film takes place in 1960, around the same time that Nigeria liberated itself from the colonial influence of the United Kingdom. The story is a dark one, following the investigation of a rural police officer investigating a series of murders of local women. Set against the backdrop of the impending end of colonialism, October 1 has a number of thematic elements that made it a hit despite its high brow concept, among them being the end of colonialism in and its long-term effects afterwards.
As good as these movies are, some people may find them off-putting or upsetting. They’re unapologetically African and don’t pull punches in terms of the damages done by the West. However, they’re entertaining movies for anyone who consider themselves a movie buff. Not just that, but they’re great for anyone wanting to see what various African countries find entertaining.