In recent times, Africa’s film industry has benefited from several developments — developments that have made the industry move away from traditional cinema. Earlier this year, Netflix released more original Nigerian content more than ever, such as Blood Sisters series, Kenya’s first original series, Country Queen, and South Africa’s blockbuster series Blood and Water season 3. Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, is slowly building its library of local content across the continent of Africa.
The industry may seem to be moving slowly – especially in comparison with the past – but African films have made major strides recently in the quality of their productions. There were only a few major film highlights during the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year. However, the highlights grew stronger towards the end of the year, giving African Cinema a befitting wrap for the year.
Here are the best African films for the year 2022.
Brotherhood is one of the most successful films in Nigeria for the year 2022. Though the film had a slow opening week, the Nigerian crime-action thriller forged a new path for Nollywood storytelling that the African audience has been yearning for. Produced by Jade Osiberu, Brotherhood stars acts like Tobi Bakre, Falz, Basketmouth, Sam Dede, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Toni Tones, Zubby Micheal, Mr. Macaroni, and a host of others. The film was released to cinemas in Africa on 23rd September 2022.
The crime-thriller tells the story of twin brothers Wale Adetula (played by Falz) and Akin Adetula (played by Tobi Bakre) who saw their parents killed while they were young. Growing up, the twin brothers found themselves on both sides of a coin as Wale joined the Police force while Akin became a criminal which lands him in prison severally.
The film also fostered collaborations with other African filmmakers, with the Director Loukman Ali originally from Uganda directing the project in Nigeria. The movie started showing simultaneously in several African countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger Republic, Senegal, Congo, Rwanda, Gabon, Guinea, and Madagascar.
Kenya’s first homegrown Netflix series and family drama Country Queen has its premiere on the global streaming platform on the 13th of July 2022, marking the beginning of a significant investment in African film by the streaming company.
Shot in English, Swahili, and a mix of other local languages, the series features a female lead character Akisa Musyoka, an ambitious Nairobi event planner, who pushes the boundaries of society’s expectations of women and it also chronicles the lives of ordinary Kenyans fighting against corporate power and land grabs. It explores urban and rural Kenya through characters intertwined by love, betrayal, and conflict.
BLOOD AND WATER
In the third season of Netflix’s South African teen drama thriller Blood & Water, the stakes are indeed higher. While all the existing plot lines are resolved with previous mysteries revealed, the third season presents much more action and dire consequences than ever before. During Puleng and Fikile’s investigation into their forced separation eighteen years ago, the real perpetrators and their allies are revealed.
The show returns to the delight of fans from different parts of Africa. Events of the new season begin around three weeks after the end of season 2, as it gets mentioned that Nwabisa Bhele is still missing. Students at Parkhurst College High School spend time by themselves during the session break before new classes resume in the new calendar year.
Released in the second half of 2022, Anikulapo narrates the story of Saro (played by Kunle Remi) who has recently arrived in Oyo as a stranger and a traditional textile weaver who uses the “aso-ofi” loom and technique. Saro has an illicit romance with Queen Arolake (played by Bimbo Ademoye) who has an unhappy marriage because she is hated by the King’s wives and is also uninterested in the king, but she must lay with him.
Arolake is uninterested in the King’s constant attention and this annoys the older wives even more, creating an acrimonious relationship between them all. In the midst of navigating the king’s unwanted attention, jealous older wives and an illicit affair, the young queen falls in love with Saro. As they make plans to elope, word of their affair gets to the king, who sentences Saro to death.
Anikulapo became the most-watched Indigenous story on Netflix global after its release in October making it one of the most successful projects in Nigeria in 2022.
A collaboration between Ghanaian and German creatives, Borga tells the story of Kojo and Yoofi who grew up on the electronic waste dump Agbogbloshi in Accra, Ghana’s capital. To survive, they extract valuable metals by burning western electronic devices. Kojo is a second-born son who wants to gain the acknowledgement and respect of his father. One day Kojo meets a Borga from Germany. His dream of going there was born. 10 years later he leaves his family behind to fulfill his dream of becoming a Borga himself. Arriving in Germany after a five-year odyssey through the continents he realizes quickly that he was chasing a myth.
Germany does not welcome Kojo with open arms. Going back is, however, not a viable option. Being ashamed of coming home and not having made it, he has to fulfill the picture of the wealthy Borga from Germany.
Three awards were won at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2022 for the feature film that had its world premiere in 2021 while competing at the Max Ophüls Preis, one of the most important platforms for upcoming new talents from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The film was also selected for the Berlinale Co-Production Market in 2021.
TUG OF WAR
The Tanzanian film industry finally makes an Oscar Nomination entry after two decades with the film “Vuta N’kuvute” – which means ‘Tug of War in Swahili. Set in 1950s Zanzibar, the film was adapted from Adam Shafi’s Swahili novel and is Tanzanian filmmaker Amil Shivji’s take on love and resistance. The film is centered on a young revolutionary and a runaway bride, battling their desires amid British rule and local tensions.
Released in Swahili and with a predominantly African cast, the film tells the story of a young Indian-Zanzibari woman whose romance blossoms on the back of a political revolt in the last days of British imperial rule.
THE BLUE CAFTAN
The Cinema of Morrocco is home to The Marrakech International Film Festival since it was first held in 2001. The film industry has been growing in strides and it is exciting to see that the film industry is making a submission to the Oscars with filmmaker Maryam Touzani’s The Blue Caftan. The film follows Halim, husband of Mina, who explores his homosexuality after developing feelings for Youssef, a new employee at the couple’s traditional caftan shop in the old media of Sale, near Rabat.
In light of the prevalent homophobic sentiments in Morocco, the film received strong international reviews while being widely criticized in Moroccan society. The film notably won the International Critics’ Prize at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival and the best director and actor awards at the Angouleme Francophone Film Festival in France. After being displayed at Cannes and Toronto festivals, the film “has been sold in more than 30 territories by Films Boutique until now,” the film’s producer Nabil Ayouch told Deadline.
NO SIMPLE WAY HOME
South Sudan’s peace is in limbo as a mother and her two daughters return home from exile. South Sudan’s mother, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, is credited with safeguarding her late husband’s vision for the country, while her daughter struggles to understand what it means to live in the country. After gaining independence in 2011, the country has been at war for most of its short history.
Akuol, Rebecca’s daughter, decides to follow her mother from behind the camera and is forced to come to terms with her own fears. At the heart of the film, No Simple Way Home is an intergenerational conversation that charts their struggle to reconcile family and country. Akuol discovers that her mother’s deepest yearning is for her children and the children of her compatriots to lead meaningful lives at home in South Sudan. But what does it mean to call South Sudan home?
2022 Nigerian thriller series Blood Sisters produced by Netflix has been described as the first Nigerian Netflix Original series. The crime thriller was directed by Biyi Bandele and Kenneth Gyang and it stars Ini Dima-Okojie and Nancy Isime in the lead, with Ramsey Noah, Kate Henshaw, Wale Ojo, Kehinde Bankole, Deyemi Okanlawon, Gabriel Afolayan, Tope Tedela among other cast members. The four-part series was released on 5 May 2022 and the release was born of the collaboration of Netflix and Mo Abudu through her media company, Ebonylife TV. Blood Sister
Blood Sisters follows the story of two best friends, Sarah (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Kemi (Nancy Isime), who became fugitives after Sarah’s husband-to-be, Kola (Deyemi Okanlawon), disappears mysteriously on their engagement day. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance became a mystery to the public until he (Kola) was declared dead a few days after when his body was found in a shallow grave.
This situation then made Sarah and Kemi fugitives, as they had to leave town to escape for their lives. As everyone tries to find Kola’s killer, more secrets about Kola, his siblings, his mother, and their family feud become revealed.
KING OF THIEVES
King of Thieves — an epic Yoruba-language movie which has arguably solidified the concept of telling African stories for the global audience — is a 2022 Nigerian thriller film produced by Femi Adebayo and directed by Tope Adebayo and
The epic revolves around the kingdom of Ajeromi and a dangerous and powerful bandit, Agesinkole who repeatedly terrorizes the kingdom. King Of Thieves is one of the highest-grossing films in Nollywood for the year 2022, with over three million naira at the box office stars Odunlade Adekola, Femi Adebayo, Toyin Abraham, Broda Shaggi, Adebayo Salami, Lateef Adedimeji, and Ibrahim Chatta.
*Borga was officially released in 2021 but it was included in this list because it only became accessible to Ghanaian viewers this year.