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netflix acquires rights to first nigerian original film

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Netflix is chartering new territory with the streaming giant announcing that it acquired the rights to its first film from Nigeria. Netflix announced the deal on Friday and went on to premiere Lionheart at the Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) on Saturday.

Variety reports the comedy stars Genevieve Nnaji and follows a daughter who’s forced to work with her irresponsible uncle in order to save her father’s ailing bus company. Also included in the cast are Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, and Onyeka Onwenu. Nnaji plays “Adaeze”, a level-headed executive in her father’s bus company, Lionheart Transport. When her father (played by Edochie) falls ill, both she and her rival (Kalu Egbui Ikeagwu) are passed over in favor of the uncle, played by Owoh. Complications arise when they discover that the family business is in dire financial straits — leading to absurd results as they try to save the company. Lionheart also explores themes of sexism that unfortunately can exist in the workplace, as well as the difficult position younger family members may find themselves in when it comes to upholding the family legacy but also exploring their own paths.

Nnaji wrote the screenplay along with Chinny Onwugbenu, Ishaya Bako, Emil Garuba, and C.J. Obasi. In a statement, Nnaji shared how excited that she is that storytelling, a talent that is found in abundance in Africa, is one step closer to being shared with the world with the assistance of Netlfix:

Lionheart is the beginning of a journey to explore and express my creative interpretation of story-telling, particularly African stories. Africa is a possessor of the most compelling stories as yet untold, and we are determined to tell our stories, our way, through our voices, to the world.”

Ricardo Monastier of MPM shared his thoughts on Nnaji as a first-time director:

“It’s a captivating and humorous movie that not only reveals the talent of Genevieve as a first-time director, but also sharply portraits a fast-changing society.”

Nnaji as also in attendance at TIFF last night for Farming a filmdirected by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and also starring Kate Beckinsale.

You can watch the preview for Lionheart below:

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