Michael ‘Psalmist’ Akinrogunde (23)
When Michael Akinrogunde was chosen as a finalist for the Accelerate Filmmaker project in 2017, he set out to make the best film possible. His project, Penance, was the culmination of ideas honed through other competitions like his entry to the We Are Water Film Festival, a non-profit initiative run by UNICEF and ROCA, where he was the only Nigerian finalist, the Homevida Workshop where he was trained by Google and USAID on screenwriting at the Pan Atlantic University.
All of that dedication paid off, because Akinrogunde surprised everyone, coming as a dark horse to win the coveted Best Short Film category at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards. The award anointed Psalmist as a veritable force in the independent film community in Nigeria and introduced him to mainstream audiences.
Motivated by the opportunity to affect lives through storytelling Michael ‘Psalmist’ Akinrogunde represents the very best of screen producing that exists in Nigeria and the potential talent that will shake things up and highlight important narratives. Akinrogunde current puts his talents towards promoting Gana Street League, his new short film and serving as Lead Screenwriter on Puzzled, an initiative of the Youth Bridge Foundation, funded by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA).
Faraday Okoro (31)
As a Nigerian American filmmaker committed to telling Nigerian stories, Faraday Okoro got his first taste of how resistant Nigerians can be to change when his film ‘Nigerian Prince’ was screened at the just concluded African International Film Festival. But he was prepared for the varying responses and committed to his vision, which is to tell the entirety of the Nigerian in Diaspora’s experience with navigating two very different worlds.
Faraday Okoro got his start by participating in and winning the coveted AT&T and Tribeca Film festival “Untold Stories” prize, a $1 million production grant created to find and support the work of underrepresented filmmakers in making their first film. The Tribeca film festival was strongly supported and helped cement Okoro’s place as a filmmaker to watch and his decision to work on a project that highlights the often ignored rift between Nigerians born and raised in the country and first-generation immigrants who have direct ties to the homeland but were raised western.
With Spike Lee co-signing ‘Nigerian Prince’ and promoting the film, as well as its controversial outings in and out of the continent, it is clear Faraday will ruffling feathers for a long time to come.
Nadine Ibrahim (24)
To be nominated for two consecutive years is a feat in and of itself, but with the staggering amount of creative work that Nadine Ibrahim has put into film and television in Nigeria, few will be surprised by this nomination. A celebrated filmmaker and producer, Nadine Ibrahim has been the champion behind the new spate of storytelling at media conglomerate, EbonyLife films and television that centres the lives, struggles and complexities of Northern Nigerian societies. Often caricatured in traditional cinema, the stories of Hausa, Fulani, Igbira, Igala, Tiv and Gbagyi ethnic groups are given dimension and range.
Nadine Ibrahim was the assistant Director for the ‘Sons of the Caliphate’ and ‘Moving Up’. She also associate-produced the critically acclaimed ‘Hakkunde’ which told the story of a Southern Nigerian encountering Northern culture for the first time and learning to look beyond his prejudices to embrace this new culture. She also released her debut film, ‘Through Her Eyes’ that tackles self-esteem issues, racism, confidence and the complexities of adolescence and is also known for her short film Tolu. Through Her Eyes has made its rounds through the international festival circuit, coming as a semi-finalist at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival and receiving a nomination for Best Short Film at the Africa International Film Festival.
As a woman in Nigeria’s restrictive culture and a Northern woman to boot, Ibrahim is carving new paths to success and self-fulfilment and inspiring a generation along the way.
Dolapo ‘Lowladee’ Adeleke (28)
Lowladee Adeleke is another multiple nominee for Screen producer of the year, a feat she achieved thanks to the stellar work she has done in making quality youth related content available to the digital generation. A self-taught filmmaker, Adeleke started her own film company, Doreen Media Africa in 2014, as a way to consolidate all the film experiments she was making and uploading to Youtube. As a scion of Doreen Media, Adeleke launched LowlaDee TV, a dedicated Youtube channel where she went on to debut short films, filmmaking experiments and her cashcow, the sleeper hit, This Is It.
Taking a gamble on Youtube, Lowladee crafted a romantic comedy that followed two newlyweds, one from Kenya and the other from Nigeria, working through the travails of marriage, cultural and ethnic barriers. This Is It resonated with all kinds of audiences, averaging an impressive 100,000 views per episode on its two seasons. As at 2018, Adeleke’s Youtube channel has garnered an impressive 5,718,842 views and 44,000 subscribers.
In 2018, Adeleke released her second full-length web series, a romantic comedy called ‘Entangled’.
Noni Salma (32)
Even in disciplines as subversive as film, there are still many taboos Nigerians will not touch. One of them is the telling of stories that seek to show LGBT persons as more than sex-crazed deviants or tortured victims of predestination. Even the story calls for it, mainstream Nigerian cinema will only address sexuality if it either conforms to the status quo or reinforces it. Noni Salma, however, is tired of those tired tropes and is doing something about it.
An avid film enthusiast, writer and filmmaker, Noni Salma routinely mines her lived experiences in Lagos to fuel her storytelling and keep her filmmaking authentic. She recently wrote and directed the critically acclaimed LGBT film, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, which explores the consequences of bigotry in nuclear Nigerian families. The film was nominated for a slew of awards at the 2018 BON awards, including most promising actors and actress for the films three young adult leads.
Noni Salma’s film oeuvre includes boundary-pushing Veil of Silence and LGBT short film, Hell or High Water, the first Nigerian LGBT film premiered in Nigerian Cinema.