Monday, November 12, 2007

This is Nollywood

This is Nollywood tells the story of the Nigerian film industry—a revolution enabling Africans with few resources to tell African stories to African audiences. Despite all odds, Nigerian directors produce between 500 and 1,000 movies a year. The disks sell wildly all over the continent—Nollywood actors have become stars from Ghana to Zambia.

We experience the world of Nollywood through acclaimed director Bond Emeruwa's quest to make a feature-length action film in just nine days. Armed only with a digital camera, two lights, and about $20,000, Bond faces challenges unimaginable in Hollywood and Bollywood.

Electricity goes out. Street thugs demand extortion money. The lead actor doesn’t show. During one crucial scene, prayers blast from loudspeakers atop a nearby mosque, making shooting impossible. But, as Bond says, “In Nollywood we don’t count the walls. We learn how to climb them.”


  1. As a Nigerian, I am generally supportive of its fledgling film efforts to date, but it must be said that I take issue with the adoption of the term "Nollywood" itself - it is too much of a cringing bow, curtsy (or prostration if African terms should be used) to Hollywood, which simply reacts with a patronising, condescending smile of weak encouragement. This is the way I reacted decades ago to the term "Bollywood" and I see no reason to feel any differently to Nollywood.
    Given the obseqious nature of the term, is it any surprise that many consider that our film industry merely apes the foreign form, and rather poorly at that?
    One thing is for sure: after the pioneering efforts of Eddie Ugboma, Ola Balogun and Hubert Ogunde in the 60s and 70s, it is really difficult to consider the present crop of offerings as an evolution of the art form, whether in terms of plot, ethos and philosophy not to talk about technical expertise.
    Having said that, one feather in the cap of the Nollywood film industry is the groundbreaking creation of its own market, rather like the Hip-hop moguls that emerged in the USA on their own initiative, utilising word-of-mouth and leveraging the leaders of the 'hood (neighbourhood) gangs and communities - this is a laudable feat, and no doubt will constitute the engine that will galvanise the improvement of the genre through competition and innovation.
    Lessons can be learnt from the study of the American and Indian genres - for example, it is not generally known that the Hollywood Western "Cowboy" genre borrowed heavily from the Japanese films of the great Akiro Kurosawa (his "The Seven Samurai" was the spiritual inspiration for "The Magnificent Seven" and his "Yojimbo [the Bodyguard]" the same for "A Fistful of Dollars". There are many more examples of Akiro's Japanese films having Hollywood equivalents). Akiro is regarded with awe and admiration in Hollywood for inspiring a generatation of filmmakers like Sam Peckinpah among others.
    While I wish Nollywood well, I would encourage the adoption of a more exciting and original name for the genre, and urge its central movers and shakers to continually seek to "think outside the Box". All the best and Happy new 2008 to you all.

  2. Thanks alot for the great post
    Lurrenzinc is the fastest growing African social network to find news about Nollywood


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