These two recent Nollywood films (which is the popular name for mainstream film production in Nigeria), both by women directors, share that they are set against the backdrop of office politics. Within them is the suggestion, though each follows its own genre cues, of a shared problem in how the country deals with women in positions of authority. They may not have the polish of Western films (thanks largely to their shoestring budgets), but both are pretty successful exercises and well worth watching. It’s worth noting that the director of The Department has also made a number of documentaries, including Faaji Agba (2015), which I reviewed a few years ago.
This is a fairly straightforward tale in some ways, but it’s utterly enlivened by the screen presence of its star and director, Genevieve Nnaji, who convinces as a businesswoman who must step into her father’s shoes to help sort out his bus company. There’s some nice use of the Nigerian locations, but it largely plays out in large homes or around business tables, with the camera doing its best to open up the spaces and keep the drama ticking along. It does rather suggest that all business in Nigeria is a matter of family connections, and there’s an underlying theme of bribery and corruption, but maybe this isn’t untrue of business anywhere in world. What this film does have though is Nnaji, and that’s enough.
Director Genevieve Nnaji; Writers Nnaji, Chinny Onwugbenu, Ishaya Bako, Emil Garuba and C.J. Obasi; Cinematographer Yinka Edward; Starring Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Kanayo O. Kanayo; Length 95 minutes.
Seen at home (Netflix), Sunday 31 March 2019.
The Department (2015)
Whatever this film’s limitations might be (and a lot of those are undoubtedly down to budget), there is plenty to like. For a film that uses its share of office settings where people discuss convoluted plans and then show-down while waving guns at each other, it’s shot nicely and has some decent acting in it too. Honestly, some of the plotting did lose me a little, especially where it got into the finer points of the corporate espionage work our lead characters get involved in. However, it’s all done with enough flair to keep it interesting.
Director Remi Vaughan-Richards; Writer Chinaza Onuzo; Cinematographer Ayoola Ireyomi; Starring Osas Ighodaro, Majid Michel; Length 104 minutes.
Seen at home (Netflix), Friday 16 March 2018.