It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Arguably, at least.
While the tropical climate of the UAR obviously does not allow for snow-filled streets, chimneys, icy surfaces to skate on and possibly kisses under the mistletoe, many of us made the most of the festive season as kids by watching classic Hollywood Christmas movies like Home Alone, Deck The Halls, Are We There Yet? and a host of other movies which partially featured the Yuletide season, like Die Hard, Batman Returns and a few of the Harry Potter movies.
Given all the shenanigans we typically encounter in our beloved country during this period, it is unusual that there are not so many Christmas-themed Nollywood movies. However, if you’re down for relatable, Christmas-themed Nollywood movies this December, here are a few you could check out:
1. A Naija Christmas
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Kunle Afolayan
Since it arrived on Netflix on the 16th of December, 2021, A Naija Christmas has become the Nollywood rave of the moment. It is Kunle Afolayan’s third Netflix release, following Citation (2020) and Swallow (2021), as well as his third movie of 2021. It is also one of the final film appearances of Nollywood veteran Rachel Oniga, who sadly passed away on the 30th of July, 2021.
The film also features heartwarming performances from Kunle Remi, Efa Iwara, Segilola Ogidan and Linda Osifo, as well as appearances by Lateef Adedimeji, Mercy Johnson-Okojie and Carol King. It follows three brothers who find themselves in a race against time to bring home a woman by Christmas to fulfil their mother’s wishes and get a hold of the family home. The frantic efforts of the brothers to come out on top are delightful to watch, with sparks flying accordingly. Viewers looking for ideas on how to pull off the perfect Nigerian-themed Christmas party will surely learn a thing or two from this flick.
2. Christmas In Miami
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Robert Peters
In the past few years, ardent followers of Nollywood movies have come to expect movies on almost a yearly basis from two production houses: Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films and AY Makun’s Corporate World Entertainment. After treating audiences to three vacation-themed movies with 30 Days In Atlanta (2014), A Trip To Jamaica (2016) and 10 Days In Sun City (2017), AY’s Akpos character comes bearing gifts in the Christmas-themed comedy, Christmas In Miami.
AY Makun retains the formula of the previous entries by having the movie predominantly set outside the country and featuring a host of foreign actors. While this may bring its status as a Christmas-themed Nollywood movie into question, AY would be joined by Nollywood veterans Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD)and Osita Iheme (Paw-Paw). The story essentially follows the reality TV-style coming together of six families from six different countries under one roof for one week, with a million dollars at stake. It does not get more over-the-top than this, but this may just be all you need for the holiday season.
Christmas In Miami arrives in theatres nationwide on Christmas Eve.
3. Christmas Is Coming
Year of Release: 2017
Director: Ufuoma McDermott
In the film industry, it may be said that there is a rite of passage where a veteran or acclaimed actor decides to switch things up by taking the directorial reins and starring in the same feature film. 2017’s Christmas Is Coming was Ufuoma McDermott’s second turn as a film director it turned out to be one of the few Christmas-themed Nollywood movies of the 2010s.
Christmas Is Coming is a romantic comedy, which picks up five days to Christmas. It recounts the damage-control efforts of a tomboy following the abrupt shedding of her tomboy ways by her flatmates. These efforts are made more daunting by a crucial work pitch, a difficult colleague and the arrival of unwanted romantic feelings. It features Ufuoma McDermott in the lead role, supported by other notable actors such as Mary Lazarus, Izzie Otaigbe, Chioma Chukwuka-Akpotha, Deyemi Okanlawon and the ageless Michael Okon. It also features veterans Sola Sobowale and Zack Orji as the parents of Ufuoma McDermott’s character.
4. A Christmas Passion
Year of Release: 2004
Director: Charles Novia
No Charles Novia movie was complete without the appearance of the distinctive caption, “A Charles Novia Think!”. While his most notable directorial efforts are Missing Angel (2004), Caught In The Middle (2007) and the OC Ukeje-led Alan Poza (2013), he directed a movie that was thematically ahead of its time and has all the ingredients of a Nollywood cult classic–2004’s A Christmas Passion.
Charles Novia also stars in this movie, alongside Kate Henshaw, Desmond Elliot, Caroline Danjuma and Funke Akindele-Bello. The movie possibly features the most unrealistic names of leads: Desmond Elliot’s character is named Christmas and Kate Henshaw’s character is named Passion. Perhaps, this cheesy choice was redeemed by the sweet delivery of a line about chocolate by Funke Akindele-Bello’s character—something about enjoying chocolate while it lasts. Perhaps not. Either way, this one is for the hopeless romantics equally looking for a throwback to simpler times.
5. Happy New Year
Year of Release: circa 2002
Like A Christmas Passion, this is yet another entry from Old Nollywood. At first glance, the title feels ironic and paradoxical, given that the New Year comes right after the Christmas festivities. But not to worry. This is a Christmas-themed movie at heart, which hits deeper if you are an Igbo person who frequently travels to the East for Christmas.
The movie features the most iconic Nollywood trio of all time: Chinedu Ikedieze (Aki), Osita Iheme (Paw-Paw) and Sam Loco Efe of blessed memory. Unlike previous movies in this list, this movie plays to the comedic strengths of its leads. In addition, it is less about plot progression and more about revelling in the ridiculousness that plays out. Like many Nollywood comedies of the period, the movie features a soundtrack with both humorous lyrics and instrumentals. Nobody buys CDs anymore, so viewers will have to make their way to YouTube for this one.