Pure #Nollywood: Lionheart, Directed by Genevieve Nnaji

#tiff18 review:
Directed by Genevieve Nnaji

Nollywood star Genevieve Nnaji steps behind the camera for her directorial debut, Lionheart, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018.
Genevieve Nnaji in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFF
Lionheart is a bus company working the southeast of Nigeria, a seemingly successful company that is vying for a new state BRT contract. But, when the company head and patriarch, played by Nollywood veteran Pete Edochie, falls ill, that facade begins to crumble.

Genevieve plays Adaeze, the good daughter. She's clearly Dad's favourite employee - serious, dedicated, and disciplined. So she's all the more surprised and disappointed when dear old Dad names his seemingly sketchy brother Godswill - played with comic relish by Nkem Owoh - to take his place.
Nkem Owoh & Genevieve Nnaji in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFF
Then, Adaeze discovers that the company has run out of cash and can't pay back hundreds of millions in loans her father has taken out. Can she and Uncle Godswill work together to save the company from ruin?

Genevieve has been working in Nigeria's film industry since the age of 8, and the movie, which is co-wrote, served as executive producer, stars in, and directs, is pure Nollywood.
  • Are there wise parents and loving daughters? - Check
  • Is there at least one big family dinner at a table laden with Nigerian food? - Check
  • Are there Naija Dad jokes? - Check
  • Will we see beautifully dressed, made-up, and bejewelled women in lavish interiors? - Check
The Premiere Q&A:

The dialogue is in English and Igbo, and the blend of drama and comedy will please Nollywood fans the world over.

Nnaji is a superstar in her native Nigeria, not only a star of about 100 Nollywood movies and TV shows, but also a model, singer, and business woman. She's taken charge of her career in a way that few women have in Nollywood, and she's set her sights high up the food chain.
Genevieve Nnaji, Peter Edochie & Nkem Owoh in Lionheart - image courtesy of TIFF
The premiere was enhanced by the recent announcement that the movie had been picked up by Netflix, where it will stream as a Netflix Original Movie - the first African movie to achieve that designation. While the streaming service does offer a handful of other Nollywood and African films, the Netflix Original designation means a higher profile and promotion. Nigerian stars like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Mo Abudu, Uche Jombo, Rita Dominic and Osas Ighodaro expressed their delight with the move on social media.

Check it out on Netflix soon.