top of page


by Joanna Lipper


In 1993 Nigeria elected M.K.O. Abiola as president in a historic vote that promised to end years of military dictatorship. Shortly after, the election was annulled and a military coup brought General Sani Abacha into power. M.K.O Abiola was imprisoned and his wife, Kudirat, took over the leadership of the pro-democracy movement. She organized rallies and the longest oil workers strike in Nigerian history, winning international attention for the Nigerian struggle against human rights violations perpetrated by the military dictatorship. Because of this work, she too became a target and was assassinated in 1996. Director Joanna Lipper elegantly dovetails past and present as she tells this story through the eyes of their eldest daughter, Hafsat Abiola, who was about to graduate from Harvard when her mother was murdered. Her father died in prison two years later. Determined not to let her parents’ ideals die with them, Hafsat has dedicated her adult life to continuing their fight for democracy. Returning to Nigeria after years abroad, she is at the forefront of a progressive movement to empower women and dismantle the patriarchal structure of Nigerian society. A startlingly intimate rendering of the epic and tragic inter-generational Abiola family saga, THE SUPREME PRICE provides an unprecedented look inside of Africa’s most populous nation from the perspective of women, exposing a deep history of political corruption and a culture where a tiny circle of political elites monopolize billions of dollars worth of oil revenue while the vast majority of 165 million Nigerian people remain impoverished.


75 mins


USA, Nigeria


AFI Docs.png



Produced and Directed by Joanna Lipper

Cinematography by Richard Sands, Joanna Lipper, Lisa Rinzler

Film Editor: Geoff Richman

Editors: Tina Grapenthin, Ali Muney

Music Composed and Conducted by Nathan Larson

Motion Graphics by Joe Fuller for MediaStorm

Co-Producer: Tunde Kelani



Dr. Joanna Lipper is an award-winning British-American filmmaker, photographer, author and lecturer, with a PhD in Women's Studies. Based in London, she runs Vertumnus Productions. With a focus on socially relevant, transnational feminist themes and a commitment to creating authentic, groundbreaking roles for women onscreen, this company is at the cutting-edge when it comes to engaging global audiences with films that inspire timely and provocative conversations. Current projects she is developing and attached to direct include a musical feature film adaptation of the novel Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. As a Lecturer at Harvard in the Department of African and African-American Studies, Joanna Lipper taught Using Film For Social Change (2011-2015). Dr. Lipper is currently a Research Associate at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and a Visiting Academic at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. Dr. Lipper is also a Research Associate at Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies, SOAS, University of London; and a member of the National Advisory Board of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard.

Lipper’s most recent documentary, The Supreme Price, traces the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. The New York Times called The Supreme Price “A Door Into Africa’s Recent History.” The Guardian included the film on a list of “Five Best Political Films in African Cinema.” The film received the Gucci Tribeca Spotlighting Women Documentary Award and was named Best Documentary at Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The film was nominated for a Grierson Award and an African Movie Academy Award.




"The Supreme Price is a deeply profound and beautiful experience, and an integral film to watch.”
- Indiewire

"Combines daring reporting with behind the scenes access and dramatic archive footage through some of the country’s most unstable periods. A fascinating history lesson of a nation still struggling to emerge from military rule."
- The Guardian

"The themes are heavy: murder and injustice, in a country ravaged by oil money and military rule. It hardly sounds like a recipe for an uplifting film, but Ms Lipper has been careful to ensure that the story is more about going forward than dwelling on the tragedy of the past... it is surely a good thing that a film like this now exists, touching on the issues the kidnappings brought to life and showing how important women are to a country like Nigeria and why it is in everyone’s interest to listen to them."
- The Economist

"'The Supreme Price' is a Door to Africa's recent history."
- The New York Times

"The Supreme Price may sound like a metaphorical title, but after seeing this strong, forthright documentary, you'll understand it's the literal truth."
- Los Angeles Times

"Patriarchy rules, and yet, according to Lipper's lively documentary, the robust movement for political and social reform is driven by women which is both remarkable and to be expected in a society where women are schooled in submission and excluded from public life."
- Variety

"Excellent... Lean, lucid... No hashtag activist, Lipper does an excellent job of using her film as a vehicle for the voices and concerns of Nigerians, and especially of Nigerian women, who are traditionally expected to stay at home while men operate in the public sphere."
- Village Voice

bottom of page