Tag: Nollywood

Nigeria’s Booming “Nollywood” Film Industry Lets Africans Put Themselves in the Picture

Filming against a green screen in Illah, a village in southeast Nigeria, in November. The production is part of the Nollywood industry, which has exploded in Africa. (Credit: Glenna Gordon for The New York Times)

article by Norimitsu Onishi via nytimes.com

ASABA, Nigeria — Sitting on a blue plastic stool in the sweltering heat, Ugezu J. Ugezu, one of Nigeria’s top filmmakers, was furiously rewriting his script as the cameras prepared to roll. “Cut!” he shouted after wrapping up a key scene, a confrontation between the two leading characters. Then, under his breath, he added, “Good as it gets.”

This was the seventh — and last — day of shooting in a village near here for “Beyond the Dance,” Mr. Ugezu’s story of an African prince’s choice of a bride, and the production had been conducted at a breakneck pace.  “In Nollywood, you don’t waste time,” he said. “It’s not the technical depth that has made our films so popular. It’s because of the story. We tell African stories.”

A film set in Illah, a village in southeastern Nigeria, where electricity generators are a necessity for movie production crews.  (Credit: Glenna Gordon for The New York Times)

The stories told by Nigeria’s booming film industry, known as Nollywood, have emerged as a cultural phenomenon across Africa, the vanguard of the country’s growing influence across the continent in music, comedy, fashion and even religion.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, overtook its rival, South Africa, as the continent’s largest economy two years ago, thanks in part to the film industry’s explosive growth. Nollywood — a term I helped coin with a 2002 article when Nigeria’s movies were just starting to gain popularity outside the country — is an expression of boundless Nigerian entrepreneurialism and the nation’s self-perception as the natural leader of Africa, the one destined to speak on the continent’s behalf.

“The Nigerian movies are very, very popular in Tanzania, and, culturally, they’ve affected a lot of people,” said Songa wa Songa, a Tanzanian journalist. “A lot of people now speak with a Nigerian accent here very well thanks to Nollywood. Nigerians have succeeded through Nollywood to export who they are, their culture, their lifestyle, everything.”

Continue reading “Nigeria’s Booming “Nollywood” Film Industry Lets Africans Put Themselves in the Picture”

DISH Network Launches Africa Box Office Channel For U.S. Audiences

Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.com

Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.com

Ever hear of Kate Henshaw-Nuttal? How about Genevieve Nnaji? You might soon. They are two of Nollywood’s top actresses. Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) is continuing to give Hollywood a run for its money… with help from moviegoers. The Nigerian film industry is now an $800-million industry, reports Forbes. And it’s becoming more global. In fact, even the Dish Network has recognized the power of Nollywood. It has just announced it will launch Africa Box Office (ABO), an Afro-Caribbean movie channel. ABO is broadcasts films exclusively from Nollywood, the prolific Nigerian film industry. It also airs films from other major African and Caribbean motion picture houses.

According to a press release, ABO is the largest Afro-Caribbean content aggregator for television in North America, broadcasting over 150 new movies per year, eight movies every day, and three premieres every week. It has a catalog of more than 1,500 African and Caribbean movies, leveraging the Afrotainment Family of Channels.

Continue reading “DISH Network Launches Africa Box Office Channel For U.S. Audiences”

Nigerian Director/Producer Tony Abulu Creates Film “Doctor Bello” To Help Legitimize Nollywood

Tony Abulu, center; with Bern Cohen, left; and Andre Leigh during the filming of “Doctor Bello.” (Ángel Franco/The New York Times)

On the surface the production that commandeered a few dormant rooms at the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island this year resembled many other low-budget film projects in New York City. Crew members were each handling multiple jobs. Those from out of town were spending their short nights on friends’ couches. The catering consisted of a box of Dunkin’ Donuts and a carton of coffee, both empty by late morning.

The film “Doctor Bello” also features Genevieve Nnaji, left; Isaiah Washington, center; and Olumide Bakare.

But despite the production’s humble appearance there was a lot riding on it. Its director and producer, Tony Abulu, and his financial backers say the film, “Doctor Bello,” has the potential to chart a new direction for the booming Nigerian film industry half a world away.

That industry, known as Nollywood, is perhaps the world’s third-largest filmmaking industry in revenues, producing more than 1,000 titles every year. But the industry is known for churning out slapdash films with feeble story lines, amateurish acting and sloppy production values. Nearly all go straight to video and are soon forgotten. Continue reading “Nigerian Director/Producer Tony Abulu Creates Film “Doctor Bello” To Help Legitimize Nollywood”

The Fifth Annual African Movie Academy Awards Help Raise Global Awareness of African Movie Industry

Bayelsa, Nigeria (CNN) — The stars of African cinema graced the red carpet at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), in Nigeria, showcasing the films that could make waves on the global festival circuit.
The African movie industry gathered in Yenagoa, in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, for the fifth annual “African Oscars.”  Set up in 2005 by former lawyer Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, the awards have helped raise the profile of African movies around the world.  “African film has a hard time in getting recognition in most film festivals [outside Africa],” Anyiam-Osigwe told CNN.  “I think one of the biggest achievements of the AMAA is that the main festivals now look upon us as a selection process, and will pick those particular films that we’ve looked at and carry them on to the different festival circuits.

Gallery: African Movie Academy Awards

“The first Nollywood film that the British International Film Festival showed was ‘Irapada,’ by Kunle Afolayan, which won Best Indigenous Film at AMAA in 2007. ‘The Figurine’ premiered at Rotterdam this year and has gone on to other film festivals and ‘From a Whisper’ traveled the festival circuit based on its win at AMAA.”
“The Figurine,” a thriller about a sculpture with mystical powers, also by Nigerian director Kunle Afolayan, stole the show at this year’s ceremony, claiming five awards in total — including Best Picture.  Afolayan told CNN, “It feels great — like we’ve not worked in vain. It feels like we’ve opened up a new page in African cinema.
For me, a good story will cut across, not just appeal to Nigerians.
–Nigerian Director Kunle Afolayan
In its first years the AMAAs focused on Nigeria’s booming movie industry — known as “Nollywood.” But since then they have become more pan-African. The 24 awards at this year’s ceremony included nominations from across the continent.
Nonetheless, in terms of sheer output, Nigeria dominates African cinema. Nigeria is the world’s second-biggest producer of movies, behind only India. In 2006 it produced 872 movies, compared with 485 major feature films made in the U.S., according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.  Nollywood movies are typically low-budget — often filmed, edited and released within a month. Most don’t end up on the big screen. Instead, they are distributed as VCDs costing about $1 to $2, meaning they are affordable for the mass African market.
But it is Nollywood’s pioneering use of relatively inexpensive digital cameras instead of costly 35mm film that Anyiam-Osigwe says has been its most important contribution to African cinema.  “There is a new wave of African cinema which is mostly the digital revolution, which has gone on from what Nollywood started in the early 90s,” she told CNN.
“Nigeria made people believe they could make films for less [by using digital cameras]. That has spread across the continent and I think that’s a good thing, otherwise Africa would not be able to have any kind of production, because it couldn’t afford it.
“You see a lot of the older generation of filmmakers from Africa who have made only one short film or one feature-length film in their lifetime, because they have not been able to make up the cost of making another film.”
Anyiam-Osigwe said that while some older filmmakers still believe movies should be shot only on 35mm film, directors from Malawi, Kenya, and Johannesburg’s “Joziewood” have now made the switch to digital.  She added that while every African country has its own movie-making style, the themes are often universal.  “Everyone tries to do a film that people in their own community will watch,” she said. “But I’ve found that all over the continent we have similar stories — it’s just how we tell them.”
story via CNN.com