Editor-In-Chief Akosua Annobil explores the impact of the continent’s growth…
Producers of “Up North” and “Fishbone” announce $1m+ feature film that recounts untold stories of violence and political fallout during turbulent period in Nigeria’s history
Anakle Films is set to release Nigeria’s biggest-budget film to date, with the release of The Black Book, debuting on Netflix on 22nd September. The film, with a budget exceeding $1 million, features an ensemble cast of Africa’s most well-known actors, including Richard Mofe-Damijo, Alex Usifo, Sam Dede, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, Denola Grey, Shaffy Bello and Ireti Doyle. The Black Book delves into a fictional narrative that explores the West African country’s conflicted history, including military dictatorship, drug trafficking, and politics, through a retired hitman’s journey to seek justice.
Directed by Editi Effiong, The Black Book details the fictional story of Paul Edima, a former military and drug cartel hitman in Nigeria who cemented his legend with an unparalleled record of assassinations, coups, abductions and drug operations. Faced with the hard choice of going back to kill a female journalist’s child whom he had spared or losing his own life, the protagonist wagers with his boss, giving up a legendary ledger called ‘The Black Book’, which details incriminating evidence against Nigeria’s corrupt elite in exchange for his life and the child. After walking away to live a quiet life for 30 years, Edima is forced back to seek justice when his only son is killed by a gang of corrupt policemen, SARS, in an attempt to cover up the crimes of a politician’s son.
The Black Book Director Editi Effiong says, “Nigeria has a complicated but fascinating past. What we aimed to do with The Black Book was to provide historical and cultural context through a fictional, entertaining lens. Great storytelling is universal; this African story will resonate worldwide. Developing The Black Book and reimagining the Nigerian cinematic experience has been incredible; we’ve had world-class actors and the chance to incorporate amazing sets and large-scale location shoots to bring this Nigerian narrative to life.”
In a significant move, Anakle Films has acquired RMD Productions Limited, founded by Nollywood icon Richard Mofe-Damijo, who now joins the board of directors at Anakle Films. This partnership reinforces Anakle Films’ commitment to fostering talent and innovation in Africa’s film industry. This acquisition has resulted in a 14-project slate for Anakle Films, including films and television series cutting across romcom, action thriller, drama and other genres. The first of these will go into production in the first quarter of 2024.
Richard Mofe-Damijo, who joins Anakle Films as Chairman, says: “The journey to ‘The Black Book’ was a transformative one for me, both professionally and personally. Meeting with Editi Effiong and embracing the physical and emotional demands of my role was an invigorating challenge that took me to new heights. As I step into my new position at Anakle Films, I’m excited to contribute to the growth and innovation of African storytelling. We have a rich history and vibrant culture that deserve to be shared with audiences far and wide. ‘The Black Book’ is an example of what we can achieve, and I believe it’s only the beginning of what’s to come.”
Pre-production for The Black Book started in 2020, where the film’s lead characters underwent intense training with stunt and tactical trainers to help them achieve high-level skills in martial arts and the use of weaponry. Filmed over three months across multiple sites in Nigeria [many have never been used for film production], including the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Lagos’ Apapa Port and Old Railway Compound, Kaduna. The team also constructed huge sets and sound stages, not usually seen in Nigerian cinema, to achieve some stand-out scenes.
Anakle Films’ debut feature film, “Up North”, released in 2018, made Nigeria’s box office history, grossing over 50 million naira [$130,000+] in its first ten days of cinema release. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
Effiong concludes, “Nigerians are amazing storytellers – it’s core to who we are as a people. But as a culture, we have tended to distance ourselves, especially in the creative storytelling genre, from the harsher realities of what military rule and corruption did to our land in the 1970s and beyond. With Richard Mofe-Damijo joining our team, we will add a new layer of excellence to our storytelling. To be able to tell this story, and on such a scale, with a world-class cast and production team has been an epic experience, and I’m looking forward to The Black Book being received by movie fans around the world”.