Nollywood. Some would label it ‘Nigeria’s answer to Hollywood’- but they’d be selling the unique cinematic venture short. The Nigerian film industry, which emerged in the early 1990s, does not attempt to replicate the material or success of Hollywood. In fact, despite rapidly gaining traction in a global market, the movies still very much portray African ideals and culture, and are aimed at an African audience. In a thought-provoking exploration of Nollywood, Onookome Okome (2007) argues that the main characteristic establishing the industry as an “autonomous local expression” is this inward view.
This short video is a documentary trailer introducing the phenomenon that is Nollywood, and contains behind-the-scenes footage from a number of movie shoots.
Clearly, these films are not big-budget blockbusters. In Nigeria, there is no government contribution to the industry, and all infrastructure for video production is privately owned. (Krings & Okome 2013) Instead, it is their relatability in African culture that garners local attention and praise; the films portray classic themes of love, betrayal, corruption and magic.
In terms of a global reception, Nollywood is still considered “a piece of something from somewhere far away”, and is not often regarded as a ‘stand alone’ industry. The title given to Nollywood films during the Berlinale Film Festival reveals this judgement, as they were labelled: “Hollywood in Nigeria or: How to Get Rich Quick.” It’s as if the Nigerian film industry cannot exist outside of the framework of Hollywood, despite the fact that Nollywood has made unquestionable difference to African cinematic life and expression.
Krings, M & Okome, O. 2013. ‘Global Nollywood: The transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry’, Indiana University Press, 2013. p. 25-43
Okome, O. 2007. ‘Nollywood: spectatorship, audience and the sites of consumption’ Postcolonial Text, 3.2, pp. 1-21.
This is Nollywood 2009, video, California Newsreel, 2nd December, viewed 25th August, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYDBiHEW1Os>