Nigerian filmmaker Nadine Ibrahim talks about the essence of being different

Nigerian filmmaker Nadine Ibrahim talks to Business Insider about the essence of being different (nailamedia)
  • Nadine Ibrahim wants to immerse African movie-goers in her cinematic world.
  • Years away from age 30, she has made a name for herself by addressing topical, societal issues.
  • Her work has gotten her nominated for several awards and listed as one of three young Nigerian filmmakers to watch by Internationally acclaimed Film website ‘Indiewire shadow and act’.

About a month ago, a young Nigerian filmmaker named Nadine Ibrahim caught the attention of social media with the release of a new short film titled ‘I Am Not Corrupt’.

Her cinematic social commentary tackled Nigeria’s political climate with actors Mofe Duncan and Rita Edwards playing a Politician and Market merchant respectively. Both characters were engaged in thought-provoking dialogue over who was responsible for corruption in the country.

This is not the first time one of Ibrahim’s projects has sparked conversation. Her previous short films: ‘Tolu,’ ‘Through Her Eyes’ and the newly released documentary, ‘Marked’ have had the same effect on audiences. 


In this interview with Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa, the 25-year-old media and film production graduate tells us why it is so important for her to tell stories that raise vital and sensitive questions about the world we live in.

She also discusses her influences, funding, running her multimedia company and the difficulties that come with making films in Nigeria.

Business Insider SSA (BISSA): How did you get drawn into filmmaking?

Nadine Ibrahim: I’ve always loved storytelling and showing the world my perspective. After studying lots of films I decided that my passion was telling stories and there was no other way to do it for me other than directing. Being in control of all aspects of film is exciting because you get to understand how all the parts work in making a great film.

BISSA: Your projects are known for being important and starting necessary conversations, how do you choose the stories you tell?


Ibrahim: My films are a product of how I feel and what I see around me. I draw from the environment around me, that’s why I feel most of my films are always relevant to the times they are released. When I make a film I want it to be thought-provoking and show different perspectives so I shy away from the norm.

BISSA: Which filmmakers influence your work?

Ibrahim: Tyler Perry because he understands his audience. Alfred Hitchcock because of his narratives and compelling stories. Spike lee because of his controversial approach to storytelling. Ang lee because of his vision , 'Life of Pi' was beautiful.


BISSA: How do you fund your films?

Ibrahim: I self-fund my films or get private funding from family and friends.

BISSA: You started Naila Media two years ago. What is it like running a multimedia company in Nigeria?

Ibrahim: It’s amazing being able to create the content I want with no restrictions. I love the creative freedom. It does get hard sometimes because it is a lot of responsibility and pressure to constantly release great content.


BISSA: Have you faced any challenges — cultural or otherwise — making films in Nigeria?

Ibrahim: Getting everyone to see my vision and be as passionate as I am. It’s hard sometimes to find the right group of people that see what you see and believe in one story.

BISSA: Is it difficult making a living from making documentaries?

Ibrahim: Personal documentaries, yes, because you often have to find the funding yourself. If it gets into big festivals you do get the possibility of making money though. Commissioned work is great because you get paid to make documentaries for organisations. So it really depends on the project.


BISSA: What do you want your viewers to take away from your short films?

Ibrahim: My films need to leave the audience touched. I want my films to ignite emotions and thoughts of certain situations and hopefully lead to a passion to make a difference in the world.

BISSA: What advice do you have for upcoming filmmakers looking to make documentaries and trying to stand out in the Nigerian film industry?

Ibrahim: Be different. Nigeria has so many unique stories, find them and tell them. Don’t try to be like others otherwise you will never stand out.

* The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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