HBO Documentary Films’ THE LEGEND OF THE UNDERGROUND Debuts June 29


HBO’s THE LEGEND OF THE UNDERGROUND, debuting TUESDAY, JUNE 29 (9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT), is a searing and timely look at the struggle against rampant discrimination in Nigeria today, as seen through the lens of several bold and charismatic, non-conformist youth who fight to live life out loud.
Through social media, celebrity and creative expression, they spark a cultural debate that challenges the ideals of gender conformity and human rights in Nigeria. Directed by Nneka Onuorah and Giselle Bailey, the film is executive produced by Mike Jackson, John Legend, Ty Stiklorius and Austyn Biggers of Get Lifted Film Co. The feature documentary will debut on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
In 2013, Nigeria enacted the anti-LGBTQ law- the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill (SSMPA), and in the years since, it has been used to harass, imprison, extort and commit violence against anyone seen as not conforming to Nigerian societal and cultural norms.
In August of 2018, 57 men who were attending a party in Lagos, Nigeria were rounded up by police, arrested and forced in front of news cameras. One of the men, James, shocked the country when he defiantly spoke out against the government while still in handcuffs, in a moment that went viral. James turned the moment into an opportunity to amplify his voice and shine a light on the oppression many in Nigeria are forced to grapple with on a daily basis.
On the other side of the globe in New York, Micheal Ighodaro is living with his friends who are part of the Nigerian diaspora and settling into his new life as an LGBTQ  rights and HIV prevention advocate, having left his community in Nigeria after having been attacked for his identity. As Micheal works to advocate for the people and communities he left behind, James and his circle of friends struggle with the option to either search for a safe haven abroad, or to stay and fight a system that seeks to silence them.
As Onuorah and Bailey’s cameras follow these tight-knit groups of chosen families, an inspiring portrait emerges of a new generation that uses social media, underground radio, and any other resources at their disposal to fight for their rights of personal expression. Through bold creativity they work to spark a cultural revolution that would challenge the ideals of gender, conformity, and civil rights in Nigeria. THE LEGEND OF THE UNDERGROUND is a timely look at a vibrant and resilient community that continues to fight state-endorsed discrimination in Nigeria while celebrating who they are.
The Legend Of The Underground continues the collaboration between HBO and Get Lifted Film Co.’s with a robust slate of documentary projects “Atlanta’s Missing And Murdered: The Lost Children,” a 2021 Peabody award nominee and  winner of the  2021 IDA award for Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series; “40 Years A Prisoner”; “Southern Rites” and “United Skates”.
HBO Documentary films presents THE LEGEND OF THE UNDERGROUND, directed by Nneka Onuorah and Giselle Bailey, executive produced by Mike Jackson, John Legend, Ty Stiklorius and Austyn Biggers of Get Lifted Film Co. For HBO: senior producer, Sara Rodriguez; executive producers Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller.