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Nigerian Director Kunle Afolayan Prepping ‘Dead Alive’ – An International Collab w/ Oscar Potential

Nigerian Director Kunle Afolayan Prepping 'Dead Alive' - An International Collab w/ Oscar Potential

His latest work, the rom-com titled Phone Swap, still playing in Nigeria (per his Twitter feed), director Kunle Afolayan is already on to the next one – an international collaboration (the first for Afolayan) titled Dead Alive

In the interview below, Afolayan breaks the news about this new project, adding that it’ll be something totally different from anything he’s ever done, as he collabs, for the first time, with producers and production companies from outside Nigeria, as well as an international cast of actors.

He then adds that he thinks it’s the film that will get him “there” – “there” being, a film that can compete on the international cinema stage, and that, as he boldly claims, could get Oscar nominations.

As noted in previous posts, we’re seeing more and more of these cross-continental (we could even say pan-Africanist) collaborations, between African American or British actors, and African writer/directors (those in Nigeria/Nollywood especially); most recently, Kimberly Elise in award-winning Ghanaian-American filmmaker Leila Djansi’s Ties That Bind, Vivica Fox in Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata’s Black November, and Isaiah Washington in Nigerian filmmaker, Tony Abulu’s Doctor Bello, which also stars Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis.

There are more that I’m forgetting at the moment, although still not as many as I think we’ll see in the future. It’s something that definitely has my attention, as I continue to watch closely, each new development. 

We often write about all the prestigious co-production markets in Europe primarily, but rarely are selected projects from Nigerian/Nollywood filmmakers.

Whether Afolayan’s next film, Dead Alive, will be all that he says it will be, remains to be seen obviously. I haven’t seen his latest, Phone Swap (it hasn’t hit USA shores yet); but I did see his last film, the thriller, Araromire, which screened at the 22nd Edition of the Pan-African Film Festival last year, where it was dubbed as the movie that … will change the face of Nollywood on the world map…

Did it? I can’t say. I think I saw it at either the New York African Film Festival or the African Diaspora Film Festival, and I thought it was definitely a few steps up, compared to what I previously knew of Nollywood movies – especially in terms of overall production quality – acting, cinematography, sound design, etc. It was definitely an ambitious attempt on Afolayan’s part, and based on what we’ve seen of Phone Tap (we’ve profiled it HERE), I’m definitely paying attention, and am anxious to see what he does with Dead Alive.

Nollywood filmmakers are certainly aware of how the rest of the world views their product; some care, and others don’t. As long as there’s a market for what they create, even if that market onyl exist within specific parts of the Diaspora, that’s more than enough for most. It’s business; and if money is being made, and you’re content, why change what’s working for you.

But there are those like Kunle Afolayan, Jeta Amata, Tony Abulu and others who want more; specifically, to be able to compete on the international stage, and give a new face to Nollywood cinema. And I can’t blame them either.

I’ll be watching…

In the below 10-minute interview, Afolayan speaks to NdaniTV’s Platinum Standard program, about navigating his home country’s emerging film market, from being part of his father’s (Ade ‘Love’ Afolayan’s) traveling troupe, to quiting his bank job to attend film school, to his perspective on how he plans to push Nollywood cinema forward, which includes building cinema chains, to his upcoming project, and more:

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