Welcome to Nollywood

As Bollywood celebrates 100 years, we look at how the Nigerian film industry is stepping up to challenge its dominance.

The world is celebrating one hundred years of Bollywood, the triumph of an industry that continues to challenge the status quo of western storytelling. 
But Bollywood might have to watch its back, as the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, steps up to challenge the eastern industry for the title of most productive film industry.

The fast-paced, high-turnover industry of Nollywood is revolutionising the movie-making model, and all without foreign aid or government subsidies.

Nigerians are telling their own stories and making movies their way. So, what has this meant for the Nigerian people?

Franco Sacchi, an Italian filmmaker whose fascination with the industry led to him making his award-winning documentary, Welcome to Nollywood, says:

“These filmmakers are incredibly courageous, and at some point in time, in the early, mid-90s they really felt they had no other options, [but] to just grab the available tools and start telling their stories.”

Sacchi explains how the digital revolution dropped the entry level for filmmaking, making it accessible to many storytellers who could film and edit their movies with affordable technologies. The low level of investment meant that the filmmakers also had space to experiment, explore and make mistakes.

Our second guest, Yewande Sadiku was an executive producer on the film Half of a Yellow Sun, adapted from Chimamande Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning book of the same name. Sadiku is an investment banker who used her skills to finance the bulk of the film locally.

“Because of my day job I understood what investors would like to see, I mean the word investment means you put money in something and you expect to get something back. The challenge with many Nollywood productions is distribution. It is extremely difficult to explain to anyone, to articulate how the returns will come back to them.”

A part of making the investment viable involved bringing in British actors Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor - their star power made the film more appealing to an international audience.

Born in Nigeria, Biyi Bandele started working on his first novel in his early teens. He has been internationally hailed as an important literary figure and has written several plays as well as novels. Bandele decided he wanted to be involved in turning Half of a Yellow Sun into a movie after reading the book.

“The moment I read [Half of a Yellow Sun], about six years ago, I just fell in love with it. And I was paranoid that if it was done by anyone coming from the outside they would make a kind of movie about Africa, and I watch them and I want to hide under the seats. I wanted a movie that depicted Africans as human beings, and not just statistics from NGOs.”

In this episode of South2North, Redi Tlhabi asks about the future of Nollywood, and what to expect from the new generation of movie makers.

Sadiku says, “I think the future of Nollywood is very bright …. It has demonstrated what is possible …. If you write with a blunt pencil, and you write with a sharp pencil, your handwriting is exactly the same but it looks very different. That’s what Nollywood needs to move to - the next level.”



01.06.2013 | por martalanca | Nollywood

'Not in the title' / Sam Hopkins

Not in the title / photocollage 2011Not in the title / photocollage 2011

Sam Hopkins´ installation „Not in the title“ is inspired by Nigerian and Ghanaian horror movies from the collection of the Iwalewa-Haus. A selection of these movies is shown in the original version mixed with manipulated sequences that are integrated digitally. The installation asks about authenticity and searches for the reception of global artworks in a local context.

Sam Hopkins lives in Nairobi (Kenya). His art is concerned with public space and interactivity. Examples are the media collective Slum TV and Urban Mirror Nairobi.

Exhibition from 27-11-11 / 04-03-12

Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany




01.11.2011 | por nadinesiegert | Africa, Art, exhibition, Kenya, Nigeria, Nollywood, Sam Hopkins

Call for papers: Nollywood in Africa, Africa in Nollywood

An international conference on Nollywood will be holding at the School of Media and Communication from July 21-24, 2011. The conference tagged Nollywood in Africa, Africa in Nollywood will be convened by Prof. Emevwo Biakolo - Dean School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University, Nigeria and Prof. Onookome Okome-University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

There has been a boom in the scholarship of Nollywood lately, so that it is now appropriate to speak of an intellectual niche that we may, for want of a better phrase, refer to as “Nollywood Studies.” As part of its template, this area of African Studies is concerned with the cultural product, the Nollywood film. There are also aspects dealing with production style, distribution, exhibition and financing, which the Nollywood industry inaugurated so quickly and spontaneously. Indeed, a body of mythologies has congealed around the way Nollywood makes its film. One documentary film after the other rehashes these mythologies ad infinitum. One remarkable feature of Nollywood as African’s “dream factory” is that it came into life and has lived its life without the express support of any Government or other institutional means. However, understanding the popularity that Nollywood enjoys across the African continent and its diasporas is a complex matter. Nollywood was able to achieve and sustain this popularity because it has managed to find new ways of migrating in and outside Africa without let or hindrance. Yet, its growth and unprecedented popularity as Africa’s “popular cinema” did not happen without peculiar challenges for the producers. In the early days, Nollywood was vilified in the as the art of idiots and some even vented to called it the “peddler’s art” in the same way that Hollywood was vilified in the 1890s. Even today, not everyone is happy about what it reads as local cultures. Many still regard it as “fake art.” Some still describe it as “infantile” in the ways it reads, makes and circulates culture. Inattentive to what the cultural brouhaha is all about, Nollywood producers have gone on to do what they know how to do best: produce more Nollywood films for their captive audiences across African and in the black diasporas.

The Conference has two goals. It seeks to rephrase the significance of Nollywood as a popular vehicle for the production of culture and the provision of a systematic way of reading the Nollywood film (and Industry) as Popular arts.

To answer these questions, the convener solicits abstracts that deal with:

  • The Production and circulation of culture in Nollywood
  • Nollywood in Africa and the African Diasporas
  • Nollywood’s Africa and the representations of Africa in Nollywood
  • The audience of Nollywood
  • Women in/of Nollywood
  • Transgressive and un-cultural Nollywood
  • Sexualities and preference in Nollywood films
  • Exhibition, financing and distribution in Nollywood
  • The internet and Nollywood
  • Nollywood and the development of national cinemas in Africa
  • Nollywood in the world 

Invited speakers include Prof. Karin Barber (University of Birmingham, UK), Prof. John Haynes (Broklyn College, Long Island University, New York), Prof. John MacCall (University Southern Illinois, US) and Prof. Dr. Till Forster (University of Basel, Switzerland).

Abstracts and inquries should be sent by email not later than June 30, 2011 and clearly marked, “Nollywood in Africa Conference” on the subject line of the email to:

Anuli Agina - aagina@smc.edu.ng (Tel) 234(0)7032237197

Ijeoma Nwezeh - inwezeh@smc.edu.ng (Tel) 234(0)8028494293

Vivian Ojiyovwi Adeoti- vadeoti@smc.edu.ng

02.03.2011 | por franciscabagulho | Nigeria, Nollywood