Monday, December 13, 2010

Nollywood: The Nigerian counterpart of Hollywood

Sunday I hapened to attend a movie screening, that gave an introduction on Nigerian cinema, or Nollywood as they refer the $250 million industry. Two movies were screened, "This is Nollywood", a documentary directed by Franco Sacchi and "Osoufia in London" a comedy directed by Kingsley Ogoro.

"This is Nollywood" follows the successful shooting of an action movie "Check Point" by Bond Emeruwa. The movie is shot in flat 11 days, 2 days more than the original plan. Nigerian movies are made in budgets some times as short as $10,000, within an average 1 week. It is just two decades old and in 2006 they had produced around 2000 movies. In quantity Nollywood is well ahead of Hollywood and second in the world only to Indian movie industry. During the production of this documentary, there was no cinema halls in Nigeria. The whole industry is supported by video. Distribution happens mostly through pirate networks. The producer sells the movie to marketer and from there onwards, its piracy that supports and takes the distribution forward. A few TV channels also supports the industry by screening the movies. Nigerian movies are watched throughout Africa and in many parts of Europe, Carribean and America where Africans are living. Nollywood aspires to be the voice of Africa.

Although the production is very basic, using hand held cameras and minimal effects, the enthusiasm of the crew is matching to any multi million budget movies. The involvement is total and sincere. That reflects in their acting, which may be very crude and undramatic, but natural. My fellow audience were laughing when they were shooting a scene of a wounded man dying. The guy, with blood gushing through a wound in chest, is going through a severe spasm and is making a very disturbing noise, which appeared overdone on screen. But, who knows better than an African about the way a man dies? Living in a country torn apart with militants, civil wars and child soldiers, I think what they are showing may be more real than any death I have ever seen on celluloid. The shooting is affcted by rain, powercuts and prayer from a neighbourhood mosque, but crew members stick on with out losing cool. The snippets of wisdom shot out of their mouths in regular intervals makes the movie more interesting.

"Osoufia in London" can be equated to our Sholay. It is a block buster. First appeared in 2003, the movie soon became a cultural sign post of Nigerian movies. The story follows the adventures of a simple, fast talking villager who goes to London for claiming the money inherited to him by his dead brother. Though the cheap budget is noticeable in shoddy production values, stock footages of London and silly background score, the sincerity of the attempt is clearly visible in the execution. The movie is reasonably well paced, with several moments of genuine wit interwoven. Acting is pretty good, editing is quite ok and scripting is just fabulous.


  1. interesting... how exactly would someone find out about these screenings?

  2. @saro: check out the newspapers, internet..

  3. Nollywood? lol. I never knew such a term existed.But some movies from African countries are brilliant...Not many are aware about them.

  4. "Conscientious Reflections" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope you like the image I featured, and I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

  5. @Alka: ya.. it was a revelation to experiance such vibrant movie making against all odds

    @fishhawk: Thanks, that was so kind of you