11 Aug

Ever heard of Nollywood?

Posted by Bryan White | Monday August 11, 2008 | News

Photo by Michael Stevenson, click for large I know two things about Nigeria and that’s about it.  It’s in Africa and there seems to be a lot of royalty there with money tied up in red tape.  One thing that I didn’t know was that Nigeria is home to the world’s third largest film industry and that they release between 500 and 1000 movies a year.  That’s a shitload of movies! Particularly from such a poor country. What’s even more impressive is how quickly this industry has sprung up. Since 1995, the Nigerian film industry exploded and they continue to crank out films today that deal with a huge variety of topics that are relevant to what seems like Nigerians and Nigerians alone. To quote the Michael Stevenson article that I will inevitably link to:

The aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted.

Consider me immediately fascinated.  I think I’m going to have to do some real research and track some of this Nigerian cinema down.  I know I’ll wind up with some cheap action and horror movies but would you expect anything else?  I usually don’t care much for a particular nation’s culturally significant movies.  There’s something to be said about the lower end of their cinematic spectrum.  What a bunch of effete intellectual filmmakers are doing with storytelling and imagery represents nothing to me.  What does is what the average people are going to see which is why I tend to gravitate to gun-porn and martial arts in the East and ghetto action from France.

Anyway, for some really striking photography that represents common elements and stereotypes of Nigerian movies drop by Michael Stevenson’s page for a quick exhibit of photos by Pieter Hugo. In the meantime, I plan on tracking down Welcome To Nollywood as an introduction.

5 Comments 

  1. August 11, 2008 3:09 pm

    Lurple

    Tollywood yes, Nollywood no. I was talking to someone about African films yesterday though, and they said they’d seen a couple. I was thinking of find a few.

    So many “ollywoods”, so little time!

  2. August 12, 2008 1:26 pm

    Tim Fife

    My best friend is into these movies. He told me they’re really ghetto, and are amazingly hilarious. I guess they’re similar to the “urban movies” you can buy on the street corners in the big cities.

  3. February 4, 2009 9:56 pm

    Frimpong

    Bryan:
    Nollywood video films are extremely popular in Africa and diasporic African communities in the United States and the U.K. Academics are paying attention to these video-films and its attendant industry.
    - Check a whole journal issue (Postcolonial Text) dedicated to videos” Nollywood & West African Cinema at: http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/issue/view/15/showToc
    - Also in 2007, the FilmInt also dedicated an issue to the videos.
    - The Global Media Research Center under the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts at Southern Illinois University is into a Nollywood Research Project: http://www.siu.edu/~africa/nollywood/index.html

    — Just a little comment about Michael Stevenson statement that in the videos; “nothing is said, everything is shouted”: This statement clearly shows that Mr. Stevenson is ignorant of the meaning and nuances of the language (s) used in the video-films. The statement smacks of tendencies in Joseph Conrad’s “HEART OF DARKNESS”. His assessment of the movies is biased and ignorant at best (and smacks of ethnocentricism). Mr. Stevenson is clearly talented in the art of taking photography but not QUALIFIED to pass judgement on a genre he has a fleeting familiarity with.

  4. February 5, 2009 9:26 pm

    Bryan White

    Hi, Frimpong. Thanks for coming by. On the topic of the “shouted” quote, I’ve seen a few of the movies from Nigeria and I get Stevenson’s drift. He certainly is generalizing, but based on the several I’d seen, there does seem to be an awful lot of yelling going on. And I’d say it has less to do with the nuances of language and more to do with the poor acting in the movies. It’s also not necessarily their fault, either. Producers pull actors straight out of their communities for these roles, so they’re not necessarily getting the cream of the crop. It’s just a symptom of low budget film making, particularly in Nigeria where the market waits for no man. You either produce a new flick every couple of weeks or the mob of filmmakers tramples you and the machine lurches forward without you.

    I never published her comments but there was a period shortly following my review of Welcome To Nollywood, which I highly reccomend you check out, that a Nigerian woman submitted no less than twenty comments asking for contact information for Nigerian filmmakers so that she could be an actress. I thought it was pretty funny.

  5. April 14, 2010 10:23 am

    Steve

    You may be interested in a recent article of mine, called Nigerian Cinema and Fiction (http://cinemaandfictionarticles.blogspot.com/2010/03/nigerian-cinema-and-fiction.html).

    I spoke with prominent Nigerian film director Tunde Kelani for it and have a number of links that you may find useful in learning about Nigerian cinema.


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