These days, most Nollywood films focus on the lives of the upper and middle-class residents of the city, ignoring a large part of its population. Foreign accents, miscast actors, and the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge characterize what we’ll like to call “Lekkiwood”. While these movies may kill it at the box office, here are some of the films that capture Lagos with a bit more nuance.
Confusion Na Wa
Picture this: two local champions (O.C Ukeje and Gold Ikponmwosa) discover a phone, blackmail its owner (Ramsey Noah) based on the content they found, and then have their lives go to shit just because they couldn’t mind their business. Taking inspiration from films like Magnolia and Crash, Confusion Na Wa is a dark comedy flick that follows a group of strangers and explores the way their worlds collide over 24 hours. While the film is set in an anonymous Nigerian city, its chaotic storyline and scenes are a perfect depiction of what it means to live in Lagos – one minute you’re on your own and the next thing, wahaleaux!
Hollywood has given us its fair share of coming-of-age comedies. From Friday and Juice in the 1990s to Superbad in the late 2000s, stories chronicling the crazy misadventures of the American youth have always been in full supply. Ema Edosio’s 2018 comedy Kasala! makes a brave attempt at capturing this feeling for young Nigerians. Set in Surulere, the film follows four young boys who find themselves in serious trouble after they bash a borrowed car on the way to a Lagos party. It is funny, crazy, and all over the place: three words that describe Lagos.
Ghost And The House Of Truth
As fun and exciting as Lagos can be, there is an undeniable sense of danger the city also presents to its inhabitants. One film that does its best to capture this danger is Akin Omotosho’s Ghost and the House of Truth. A 9-year-old goes missing on her way from school, and her working-class mother teams up with a pregnant police officer in a bid to bring her home. Diving deep into the darker side of Lagos we experience in real life but rarely at the cinema, it finds both ugliness and beauty in areas like Makoko and Iwaya. For Lagosians who navigate these places, it feels good to finally see a reality they can associate with.
Before director Kayode Kasum gained popularity for films like Sugar Rush and Fate of Alakada, he made Oga Bolaji, a film that captures the essence of Lagos in the simplest of ways. Oga Bolaji shows the unpredictable nature of Lagos while asking that its characters get up and try again no matter what. It follows its title character and his chance encounter with a little girl that changes his life forever. You know that resilient hustling spirit that wakes us up in Lagos? Oga Bolaji does its best to bring that to the screen.
The Wedding Party
It is easy to blame this film for the current state of Nollywood. An ensemble cast, a wild family event, and crazy marketing made The Wedding Party one of the highest-grossing Nollywood films of all time. Since then, almost every film has been trying to recreate that blueprint. Nothing says Lagos more than a lavish aso-ebi-filled wedding.