Tribeca 2018 Review: Nigerian Princeby Dominga Martin
April 26, 2018
What’s the 419?
First time feature filmmaker Faraday Okoro debuts his film NIGERIAN PRINCE exposing the underground world of scamming.
After receiving a scam email in his college inbox, Director/Writer Faraday Okoro was inspired to tell the untold story of email scamming, inspired by his personal experience in Nigeria and the illegal world of scamming which originated in Nigeria.
NIGERIAN PRINCE is the visual masterpiece which made it’s world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Faraday is the first winner of the inaugural AT&T Untold Stories grant in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute. After applying in 2017, Faraday was immediately thrusted in front of a few A-list judges to pitch his original script. Oscar winning Producer Lee Daniels, actors Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Mackie, and the President of HBO were one of many noted influencers on the panel to award each contestant one million dollars to execute their vision.
Faraday is a New York based Nigerian-American. He knew right away that he would shoot this film on location in Nigeria, basing the story on his personal experience of visiting Nigeria when he was a teen-ager, and forced to stay against his will, for a longer time — not originally planned.
This storyline sparked the character EZE (Antonio J. Bell), a Nigerian American teenager who has been sent to Nigeria to live with his Aunt. His arrival to the continent for the first time is a culture shock and eye opening experience. Filmmakers do a great job showing a world that many have not seen before, unless they travel to West Africa. The texture and authenticity of this film was beautifully captured. The soul of the movie is felt with every scene as we explore Nigeria through the eyes of Eze, who has never been there and desperately wants to go back home to America.
Forced to give his homeland a chance, Eze meets his cousin PIUS (Chinaza Uche) who is clearly up to no good and a hustler of every scam known to man in Nigeria. His claim to fame: ‘419’ fraud, also called ‘Nigerian 419’ a code number extracted from the Nigerian Criminal Code to identify email scammers. This scam operation of luring naive people to be a vessel to funnel large sums of money is Pius’ bread and butter. Yet, Pius is running out of victims and finds himself entangled with the corruption fueled by the Nigerian Police Force.
Both Eze and Pius find themselves cornered and desperate to make life or death decisions. When one’s back is up against the wall and there aren’t any options left, both are faced with themselves and the choice to do the right thing, or not.
What I found most interesting about Nigerian Prince is how the film captures the underground world of email scamming, juxtaposed with the fictional reality of scammers trying to survive. Some people actually make a living this way. While this is just a glimpse into a world that truly exists, the hustle, bustle and desperation of this corrupt way of life is told with striking visuals, setting this film apart from many “nollywood” movies. This is definitely next level.
NIGERIAN PRINCE is also executive produced by Brooklyn’s own Spike Lee.