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Why 2017 Is The Breakout Year For Nigerian-American Directors, The Onah Brothers

While most twins can't even stand the idea of sharing outfits, Nigerian-American directors, the Onah brothers, seem set to share a breakout year.

We'll be talking about these 34-year-old twin directors, Anthony and Julius Onah, who both have drastically different movies due out this year – one, an almost autobiographical character study; and the other, a sci-fi horror film – and why you'd better learn their names.


Julius and Anthony Onah (Photo: Variety)

Anthony Onah and his first feature film, Dara Ju

What makes a person go from studying Biochemistry and Neuroscience at Harvard University to indie filmmaking?

That's a question a lot of people have asked Anthony since he turned down his admission for a graduate program at Cambrige University to study film directing.

Well, the answer he gave Filmmaker Magazine is the closest we will get to understanding his decision:

"The basic impulses that drew me to science are the same ones that animate me as a storyteller. I’m deeply curious about who we are as people and how we work, where we came from and where we’re headed.”

Now with his debut feature, Dara Ju, having just made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, one of the most prominent film festivals in the US, his drastic career change is about to make a lot more sense for those of us on the outside looking in.


Dara Ju (Photo: SXSW)

Developed from his 2012 short film of the same name, Dara Ju tells the story of a first-generation Nigerian-American who struggles with the pressures of a job in commercial finance, balanced with family and relationship issues.

Anthony, who immigrated with his family from Nigeria to the US when he was 10 years old, talked to Deadline about why making this movie was so important to him:

“I have this personal background and I want to tell personal idiosyncratic stories that reflect that background.”

With the positive reviews Dara Ju is already getting right off the bat, you can be sure you'll be hearing more from this talented filmmaker in no time.


Aml Ameen in 'Dara Ju' (Photo: Indiewire)

Julius Onah and his massive project, God Particle

Unlike his brother, Julius Onah knew he wanted to be a filmmaker really early on. For him, a major part of the process of integrating after moving to the US as a kid was watching a ton movies.

Speaking with Rolling Out about how his love for filmmaking started, Julius said:

“I was obsessed. I wanted to know how these movies were made, who’s in control, who has the vision. By the time I was 12 years old, I said, ‘This is it.’

I looked to my mom who said, ‘You’re crazy. I didn’t bring you hear from Nigeria [so you wouldn’t] be a doctor or a lawyer.’ I made up my mind then that I wanted to be a director.”

Now, after only one feature film, he is at the helm of one the most anticipated movies of 2017, the third installment in the acclaimed Cloverfield franchise, God Particle, starring David Oyelowo.

David Oyelowo (Photo: Variety)

God Particle will follow a team of astronauts aboard a space station, who find themselves alone after a scientific experiment causes Earth to disappear. When a space shuttle appears, the space station crew must fight for survival following their horrible discovery.

The movie is set to be released on October 27 – and like everyone who has directed a Cloverfield movie before him, Julius Onah is set to become a household name.

Cloverfield (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

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Konbini and Nescafé bring you the coolest success stories
- by Nigerians, for Nigerians. Whose world is it? Yours!