African Film Directors: Nigerian Film Directors Chineze Anyaene and Biyi Bandele

Chineze Anyaene 

Chineze Anyaene is a Nigerian film director and producer. She graduated from the University of Abuja in Theatrical Arts and later the New York Film Academy with a Masters in Directing. Chineze moved back to Nigeria to pursue he career as a film producer and director.

She made her debut as a film director in 2010 with the film, ‘Ije: The Journey’ which she also co-wrote and produced. The film was part of her film school project. The Journey’ is a Nigerian feature film about a young lady, Chioma, who travels to the United states to aide her sister, Anya, who is being charged with the murder of three men, including her husband. The film went ahead to break the record for two years in a row as the highest grossing Nigerian film in cinemas. ‘Ije: The Journey’ won awards at different film festivals including the Canada International Film Festival, Las Vegas International Film Festival, San Francisco Black festival and Swansea Bay Film Festival, among others.

See also: 5 Things All Great Film Directors Have in Common 

Chineze Anyaene has written, directed and produced other films including ‘Ifi’ and ’20 Years Later’, a short film.

Fact: While at the New York Film Academy, Chineze made the history of KODAK as the first student to shoot a feature film (Ije: The Journey) on 35MM.

“Being a female film director in Africa, you are seen as a ‘superwoman.’ There’s little or no difference between what I can do and what a male filmmaker can do. I believe we are all human beings with a drive and mission, and your ability to achieve or complete that mission makes you unique. In film, I am constantly on a mission to achieve something, and I don’t stop until I get there.” – Chineze Anyaene


Biyi Bandele

Biyi Bandele is a Nigerian Film Director who made his directing debut with the Nigerian film, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ in 2013. ‘Half of a Yellow’ is the film adaptation of Chimamanda’s book of the same name. Biyi developed the film’s screenplay and directed the film which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentation section.

In 2015, he directed another feature film, ‘Fifty’ which is listed as the 5th highest grossing Nigerian film since its release. ‘Fifty’, a romantic drama film, tells the story of ‘four friends forced at midlife to take inventory at their personal lives, while juggling career and family against the backdrops of the neighborhoods of Lagos’. The film won an award at the 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards.

Biyi Bandele is also a renowned Nigerian novelist and playwright. Based in the UK, he is known as one of the most prolific and versatile UK-based Nigerian writers.

As a director, he also directed the third season of MTV’s Shuga.

“It is a cliché, that 99% of your work as a director is in the casting, but it is true. If you get the casting right, it is not very hard for the director on the set. If you get the casting wrong, you have just created the ultimate nightmare.” – Biyi Bandele


To laud the great contribution by African film directors, Film Link Africa will be highlighting film directors from around the world in a series we are calling; African Film Directors.  

In this series, we will list African Film Directors in no particular order. This series is not about comparison. It’s not about who has made more films or won more awards. It is about celebrating African Film Directors by highlighting their work and contribution to the African film industry, irrespective of their age, race, number of films and/or awards.

See also: South African Film Directors Thishiwe Ziqubu and Lebogang Lasethaba



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