Nigerian filmmaker and producer Kunle Afolayan’s new thriller movie Swallow will debut on streamer Netflix on October 1, Nigeria’s Independence Day.
Swallow is an adaptation of Nigerian-American writer Sefi Atta’s best-selling novel about a woman and her roommate in Lagos during the burgeoning drug trade of the 1980s and follows their struggles to survive under austerity measures and the so-called War Against Indiscipline.
This is the first film from Afolayan’s multi-title Netflix deal.
Afolayan posted on Instagram: “This is the very first book I am making into a movie. Once I read the book, I had to decide on what aspect of the book I wanted to focus on and whose perspective I wanted to share based on the story. Once that was sorted every other thing was put in place.”
The cast include musician Eniola ‘Niyola’ Akinbo, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Deyemi Okanlanwon, Eniola Badmus, Chioma Akpotha, Kevin Ikeduba, Offiong Anthony Edet and veteran Olusegun Remi.
Netflix and Nigerian movie producer and director Kunle Afolayan are working on three original titles that will be exclusive to the global streamer.
The content includes a period drama adapted from Nigerian-American writer Sefi Atta’s 2010 novel Swallow. It focuses on a naive secretary who, after a series of career woes, considers her roommate’s offer to work as a drug mule in mid-1980s Lagos.
The other titles being developed under the Netflix-Afolayan alliance are a folklore fantasy and a character-based drama that deals with dementia while mixing in some African spirituality.
Sharing the news on Instagram, Afolayan said: “The subject matter of the movie Swallow affects everyone globally and, if we take it from Nigeria’s point of view, it’s a peculiar story which is authentic to Africa. We are already in post-production and have filmed 95% of it.”
The cast for Swallow includes Eniola Akinbo (aka Niyola), Deyemi Okanlawon, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Chioma Chukwuka Akpotha, Kunle Idowu (aka Frank Donga), Omotunde Adebowale (aka Lolo), Offiong Anthony (aka Thin Tall Tony), Oreofe Lawal, Eniola Badmus and Mercy Aigbe.
Netflix’s director of content in Africa, Ben Amadasun, added: “We want to keep entertaining the world with great stories and we believe great stories can come from anywhere – Nigeria being one of those markets where we have a very prolific film industry, thus making it the focus market.
“It’s been five years since Netflix launched in Nigeria. Since then, we’ve been able to add a wide variety of Nollywood films and series, and build strong relationships with local creators like Kunle Afolayan.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding to bring his classics like The CEO, October 1, The Figurine and, most recently, Citation to our members around the world and shine a light on Nigerian culture, history, fashion, music, food and languages through his films. It’s been an honour to have some of Kunle’s works on the platform for our members to enjoy.”
Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan is working on a script based on the shooting of protestors who were campaigning as part of the End SARS movement in Lekki, Lagos.
Afolayan revealed on social media that he is working on a project about the events of October 20 that have become known as the Lekki Massacre, when Nigerian armed forces fired on peaceful End SARS protesters.
The End SARS movement is a series of protests against police brutality in Nigeria that is calling for the disbandment of the police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In response to a question asked on Twitter about whether there would be a sequel to his 2014 psychological thriller October 1, Afolayan wrote: “It is a ‘must [be] told’ story. Script development in progress. #GodSaveNigeria.”
Afolayan added that filmmakers have a “social and human responsibility to also use our craft to consciously tell stories that will help create positive awareness politically, culturally and to also document history for ourselves and generations to come.”
Afolayan is also behind forthcoming Netflix movie Citation, based on sexual harassment in educational institutions in Nigeria. It stars actors including Temi Otedola, Joke Silva, Adjetey Anang, Jimmy Jean Louis, Gabriel Afolayan and Ini Edo.
Global streaming platform Netflix is adding more Nollywood content to its service, after signing deals with Nigerian producers and distributors for one drama series and three films.
The films include Kunle Afolayan’s Citation, which will launch on November 6 exclusively and globally on Netflix. It follows the story of a young postgraduate student who experiences sexual harassment from a lecturer and stars Ini Edo, Joke Silva, Temi Otedola, Gabrie Afolayan and Adjetey Anang.
The movie King of Boys 2 will also debut in 2021. It follows a businesswoman and crime boss who is drawn into a power struggle that threatens all she holds dear. It stars Richard Mofe Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Nse Ikpe Etim and Efe Iwara and is the sequel to director Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 crime thriller King of Boys.
Young-adult series Far From Home, produced by Lagos prodco Inkblot Productions, will also launch on the service.
The six-episode series, created by Chinaza Onuzo and Dami Elebe, follows the story of a charismatic teenager and talented artist form a poor family. His dreams suddenly appear within reach when a prestigious scholarship to the most exclusive school in the country catapults him into the luxurious world of Nigeria’s top 1%.
The series will be directed by Chinaza Onuzo, Tope Oshin and Niyi Akinmolayan and will star Funke Akindele.
Onuzo said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Netflix team to tell the story of Nigerian youth on a global scale. We cannot wait to share with the world what it feels like to grow up in one of the most dynamic countries on the planet.”
Nigerian filmmaker and producer Kunle Afolayan is starting a film and TV academy as well as other projects to benefit creatives and content creators.
KAP Film & Television Academy will be housed in the KAP Hub and is designed to offer hands-on experience from veteran and great film professionals.
It will also provide those passionate about art, creativity, television, film and new media with exposure to diverse filmmaking tools on movie sets.
According to Afolayan, this was an idea he had years ago after the establishment of his film company Golden Effects Pictures in 2005.
“Initially, Golden Effects Pictures was involved in the production of films, documentaries, television commercials, music videos, film equipment rentals and film consultations. But with my decision to go into other demanding areas in the film industry, I decided to expand Golden Effects Pictures into subsidiary brands offering specialised services under the name KAP Hub.
“KAP Hub will consist of KAP Motion Pictures, a film and television academy, a cinema, Golden Effects Services, a restaurant and bar, live band, art and craft shops and a creative minds hangout.”
The KAP Hub will create an experience that will enable creatives to come together to unwind, eat, drink and interact with one another and be entertained by a live band.
The next film from renowned Nollywood filmmaker Kunle Afolayan will be released in theatres in August, with an SVoD deal also in the bag.
Drama film Citation will be available on Netflix by the end of the year following its cinema release in August.
The college drama centres on a female postgraduate student who is sexually harassed by a lecturer in a sex-for-grades scenario. Afolayan said the aim of the film was to empower women.
While the coronavirus pandemic affected production of Citation, the producers were able to conclude principal photography before the lockdown, Afolayan said.
“Thankfully, we were able to complete the shooting of the film. We also started post-production before the Covid-19 pandemic started and we already have a cut. But because of the lockdown, things have slowed down,” he added.
Citation stars Temi Otedola alongside Haitian-French actor and model Jimmy Jean Louis, Sadiq Daba, Joke Silva, Gabriel Afolayan, Ini Edo, Toyin Bifarin and a host of others.
Afolayan’s credits include Yoruba movie The Figurine: Araromire and Phone Swap.