By Ange Ngu Thomas
Brash, superstitious, unconventional and funny are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe the rapidly exploding home video film industry in Nigeria. After the hugely successful 2010 roadshow Nollywood Goes to London that took 7 Nigerian films (including Osuofia in London and Dangerous Twins) to the English capital, five film enthusiast based in France organized the Nollywoodweek Paris under the auspices of the YK projects association.
From May 30th to June 2nd 2013, another seven of the best films from Nigeria will be screened at the L’Arlequin Theatre in Saint Germain de Pres in Paris, France. The organizers intend to take the roadshow to other countries in future as the popularity of nollywood films grow each day.
For four straight days, there will be among other things, a cocktail party, panel discussions and film screenings around the second largest film production industry on earth; Nollywood. You can check the website here
Only Indian Bollywood produces more films than Nollywood. Hollywood still keeps its title of most lucrative and outrageously expensive global film industry.
Some 2.500 films are produced in Nollywood annually and it now generates more than US $250m in revenues. Each of the movies are produced on an average US $15.000 shoe-string budget. Nollywood producers, directors and actors want to take this glitz and glamour into Paris, the European centre of culture.
The Paris Films
How do you select only seven films from the second most prolific film industry on earth? According to the organizers of nollywoodweek Paris, their selection criteria was based among other things on the year released, sound and picture quality of each film
Confusion Na Wa, the African Movie Academy Award best African film winner is not even among the seven films that will be screened over the four days of the film. Nollywood produces so many films that choice is always an issue.
Last Flight to Abuja by Obi Emelonya won the title of Best Film by an African Abroad during last months’ African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) in Bayelsa State and will be one of the seven films that audiences will watch in Paris. The others include Tango with Me by Mahmoud Ali-Balogun, Ije (The Journey) by Chineze Anyaene, Inale by Jeta Amata and Keke Bongos, and Phone Swap by Kunle Afolayan, Man on Ground by Akin Omotoso and Maami by Tunde Kelani
French might be the language spoken in France but you still have a sizable number of Nigerians and English speaking Africans in Paris. A lot of French speaking Africans also love Nollywood movies so the organizers of Nollywood Week in Paris are still expecting a big turn out for their screenings.
Nollywood continues to defy notions of film making
Zambian born US based Filmmaker Franco Saatchi has produced a documentary on Nollywood titled This is Nollywood and describes the film industry in Nigeria in a TED talk as “…an african story of…hope, resilience and glamour”. He is more used to producing big budget films in Hollywood but believes Nollywood films have a bright future.
Nollywood director Peace Pibaresima says their films are produced essentially for ”the masses”. Another producer Mahmoud Balogun is categorical that in Nollywood, they don’t need the fancy film production gear and don’t have the big budgets of Hollywood films. In Nollywood, he continues, “…you make a film, it sells then you jump again into location and make the next film because if you don’t make the next film, you don’t get to eat.
The biggest criticism of the Nigerian film industry has been its lack of professionalism and the quick turn over of films mean little attention is paid to the small details. An average Nollywood film takes less than two weeks to film and little over a month for post production.
That does not appear to be worrying the Nollywood producers and directors, the invincible men and women behind the Nigerian film industry. They have faced all types of criticisms but are still doing the same thing almost twenty years after Nollywood kicked off with classics like True Confession and Glamour Girls because the masses are still buying them in their thousands and making them enough money to stay in business. Love, black magic, corruption and religion are still some of the most popular themes running through most Nollywood films.
According to a note from the organizers published on its website:
“This year, Nollywood turns 21. Now is the perfect time to shift gear away from its perception of low-quality films and move towards bringing recognition to the most influential story-tellers in Africa. The Nigerian film industry has gone beyond national borders obtaining worldwide recognition. Now, it will become known to the 62 million inhabitants of France, the birthplace of cinema”.
Join another celebration of nollywood movies in Paris from May 30th to June 2nd.