Welcome to Nollywood 101.
I suppose you can think of this as some kind of syllabus? LOL! Some of you have been "abroad" for a while, and while you were gone, something happened. Nigeria's best kept secret (aka Nollywood) exploded onto the international scene. And some of the actors and actresses associated with the industry have become international superstars. Yes, I said international â€“ from South Africa to Jamaica, even to Haiti, African movie stars are revered, the same way Brad and Angelina are in the western world. While Nollywood has dominated the scene for most of this decade, other African countries have begun to wise up, leading to the resuscitation and expansion of movie industries in Ghana, Kenya, etc, etc. My name is moviemadam, and my job, as regularly as I can, will be to guide you into understanding the enigma that is this African industry â€“ led by Nollywood. I will inform you of what (and who) is hot, what has changed and what needs to.
I know many of you have heard about this African movie renaissance, and you are wondering what all the fuss about. "Is it not those movies", you ask, "with long drawn out scenes, poor sound, poor picture quality, poor editing, funny special effects, stupid juju scenes, etc?". While some of that is true, let me tell you, times are achanging.. Most of the films are bad, true, and even the better movies are not Hollywood, or even Bollywood standard, but they are ours, and we will celebrate them. And nope, we are not celebrating mediocrity. There is a sizeable minority or producers, directors and actors who work really hard and do really well. They deserve to be celebrated and encouraged, and you will be introduced to these individuals in due course.
After reading this thread , I am even more convinced of the need for some education about the movies that that emerge from the industry. We will begin our introduction to the industry with a few documentaries that have been made about Nollywood by curious outsiders. This will provide a quick overview of some of the issues that we will eventually cover. Nollywood started to attract attention from the West quite a while ago. While the characterization of Nollywood by these documentary makers is never completely accurate (in my opinion anways), I do think that it's a good place to start our analysis.
This documentary below was made probably 5-6 years ago, by South Africans it looks like. Its not perfect, but it does throw the issues that the industry has had to face into bold relief. I think the Nollywood portrayed in this documentary is the way too many people still think of the industry today - in particular those of you wey don tey for obodo oyinbo (those who have been gone too long). My comments on some of the issues raised by the documentary are found below: South African documentary on Nollywood
A few comments though about this documentary:
a) There was a time when Nollywood was mostly about gory ritualistic movies. That era is so five years ago! And I must also say that I have never seen or heard of most of the movies that are being featured in this documentary. Trust me when I say that the movies I will be pointing you to are MUCH, MUCH BETTER!!
Quick trivia note: King of the Jungle â€“ was supposed to be quite good (for the period) - Reviews here. So I guess I need to go check it out. However I do not believe any of that crappy talk about $140,000. For where? Naija sabi make moutthhh! Some of today's movies are starting to hit those levels in terms of budget though but I will bet my last penny nobody spent that much in 2003!!
b) Hanks Anuku? I wonder what happened to him. I have not seen him in anything more recent than 5 years ago. We will be talking about who today's movie hunks and beauties are.
c) Today's top stars live in LUXURY. Some of them have gotten endorsement deals that would make us all green with envy.
d) Stephanie Okereke is all grown up, and now VERY sophisticated â€“ and by the way, she did not get the good shepherd role. Not sure why she auditioned for it though, looks like a pretty white movie to me: trailer
e) The issue of funding is an important one. Remind me to talk about Project Nollywood someday.
f) The power of the marketers. That is a whole a whole book by itself. In 2005-2006, some of Nollywood's top actors and actresses (10 of them to be exact) were banned for a) charging too much, and b) insubordination; a state of affairs that led many of them to take up singing. LOL. Remind me to talk about that another day too!
g) It is true, Nollywood squeezes water out of stone in too many situations â€“ they are literally miracle workers. Too many issues to contend with â€“ electricity being everybody's albatross in that our country. They do mention a few others â€“ traffic, crowds, etc. I once watched a pretty good movie where you could hear a pastor making noise in the church probably across the road. Na real wah!!
h) Censorship â€“ either the censor's board slaps an 18 rank on most of the movies out nowadays, or they have lowered their censorship standards. Some of the sex scenes now make me say Whoooooo!!
i) Not sure I have ever seen Nwadike's work. The Oscar thing he was talking about â€“ what?
j) Quick trivia note: Chinny Ahaneku, the lady director they started off with, was actually quite good in "Alice my first lady" as an actress, although the story kinda went to hell in the end (in my own opinion though) â€“ more about that movie here:
k) Finally, LOL at the ending with the white guy being drafted into the movie. I wonder if he was paid?
However, there seems to be a huge problem with finding white people to act in Nigerian movies. The results have often been totally disastrous in general. Lebanese guys are often drafted and passed off as British, American, etc, etc. Hmmm! There have been a few other documentaries, also focused on Nollywood. While I have not seen them, I have found the trailers to be very informative:
- Nollywood Babylon, which I hear was not too bad:
and ii) This is Nollywood (Saw this on youtube and decided to throw it into the mix)
So, as you can see, there is a lot to talk about with regards to Nollywood in particular and the African Movie industry in general. Some of the issues raised will make us laugh, some will make us cry (after all, Nollywood exists in Nigeria, not utopia), but hopefully, all of it will entertain you and awaken interest in this miracle that has emerged from our entertainment industry. And yes, I will also regularly recommend the better movies. You will be surprised by what is out there, believe me! I hope you enjoy this journey with me.
About moviemadam : An African movie fanatic who knows more about Nollywood than she probably should. Her website is http://afrikcinepedia.