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|Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by AINATOLULOPE: 2:50pm On Nov 05, 2014|
By Juliette Grainger
Nigeria cradles the second largest film industry in the world. Only Bollywood surpasses Nollywood in film releases per year, while Hollywood lags way behind – their production values may be enormous, but they pay for it with a comparatively paltry output. Arguably, the Nollywood film industry helps enormously to put Nigeria ahead of the game when it comes to building a worldwide perception of the nation. Just as the US in the 1930s utilized its budding cinematic industry to export awareness of its culture and issues to the rest of the world, so Nollywood may be doing the same. However, given that Nollywood’s style is somewhat unique, and that – unlike when the US was developing its cinematic style – other cultures have now become accustomed to alternative modes of cinema, how successful is Nollywood in influencing outsider perspectives of Nigeria, Nigerian culture, and Nigerian issues?
Across Africa, of course, Nollywood is well known and appreciated. Nollywood DVDs are exported across the continent, and provide staple entertainment for people from many hundreds of African cultures. While Nollywood stars may well have yet to attain the kind of glamour and cross-cultural acclaim that Hollywood and Bollywood stars enjoy, few people would disagree that Nigeria is fast becoming a beacon for the up-and-coming African actor, screenwriter, or director. Nollywood’s specialization in witchcraft and voodoo flicks has proven enormously popular all over Africa, and classics like the Igbo film ‘Living In Bondage’ are rightfully revered as exemplars of the genre. Nollywood is also having a profound cultural effect upon Africa as a whole – with people of many cultures emulating their favorite Nigerian stars and characters – as well as upon overall perception of Nigeria. Outside of Nigeria, it is commonly believed that Nigeria must be precisely as it is portrayed in the films. This is an often erroneous impression – and can on occasion work in a negative manner when one considers Nollywood’s predilection for voodoo and witchcraft flicks - but the glamorous nature of Nollywood settings has stood Nigeria in good stead when attracting skilled workers and investors.
Outside Of Africa
But what about outside of Africa? Well, sad to say, most Americans would look askance at you if you said the word ‘Nollywood’ and, while continental Europeans would be more likely to have an inkling of what you were talking about, very few could claim to have seen a Nollywood film, or even be able to name a Nollywood title. You may have more luck in Britain, which has a large African population, but still the majority of Brits would probably be unable to name a Nollywood star. Chinese people would be stunned to learn that Africa is home to an enormous film industry and, while Indians might be vaguely aware that it existed, they’d be unlikely to even know where to start trying to get hold of a Nollywood production. Outside of Africa, Nigeria is far more culturally known for its rich literary heritage than for its film industry. However, ignorance of the basics does not necessarily mean that the Nigerian film industry is not having an impact upon cultural perceptions of the nation. The fact that Nigeria has a film industry at all renders it an object of fascination for those in the know, and the nature of cultural transmission means that Nollywood can have an influence above and beyond that achieved simply by people watching its films.
A Nigerian Voice
Unfortunately, much of the news concerning Nigeria which reaches Europe is negative. In particular, Nigeria hits world headlines as a narcotics gateway, through which drugs like heroin pass on their way to Europe. Heroin addiction is an enormous problem in Europe – even more so than in West Africa – claiming hundreds of lives and putting thousands of people into rehab each year. ‘Gateway’ nations like Nigeria are often blamed for failing to clamp down adequately on the flow of heroin at their end, thus letting more potentially slip through the net into Europe. This does not potentially make for a particularly positive view of Nigeria in world eyes. However, a cultural outpouring like Nollywood has ensured that the view of Nigeria’s drug problem and the view of Nigerian culture and people remain nicely distinct within the public eyes, ensuring that people do not merge the two and begin to think of Nigeria as a whole as a nation of drug-pushers. Ordinary people don’t even have to be aware of Nollywood to feel its influence – the presence of a booming film industry in Nigeria lets the world media know that Nigeria has a voice, and a potentially very loud one that it will use should it feel that it is being unjustly represented. Furthermore, the intense popularity of Nigerian film within Africa means that, whether they know it or not, a lot of the ‘African’ culture which reaches Europe and America is in fact Nigerian culture – thanks to Nollywood, Nigerian culture has become the predominant and strongest African culture to reach far-flung shores.
There’s a lot of evidence that Nollywood will shortly be getting the fully-focused attention that it deserves on the world stage. There has been a considerable amount of interest in Nollywood from certain American actors and directors, who either have invested or seem likely to invest in Nollywood productions. Films like ‘Doctor Bello’ even feature Hollywood actors, and seek to introduce Nigerian cinema to a wider world audience. This trend is burgeoning, and looks set to continue. Before long. Nigeria could find itself not only on of the cultural hubs of Africa, but one of the hubs of world culture as a whole.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by koolg: 3:32pm On Nov 05, 2014|
I don't watch nollywood I just came back from australia
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by Guykhena(m): 4:50pm On Nov 05, 2014|
Before long. Nigeria could find itself not only on of the cultural hubs of Africa, but one of the hubs of world culture as a whole.
Not when Nollywood is involved....
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by DaVinChiSam(m): 6:17pm On Nov 05, 2014|
we getting there...
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by VillageBoi(m): 8:36pm On Nov 05, 2014|
DaVinChiSam:Taking a while isn't it?
Sad truth is the very best of Nollywood/Nigerian film cannot even be compared to the very best of any other African filmmakers... talkless of the-rest-of-the-world. Yes it's moving forward but some big key ingredient is still badly lacking.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by hahn(m): 8:59pm On Nov 05, 2014|
I'd rather watch Dexter's lab or Pinky and The Brain than sit down to watch a Nollywood movie. Some people will like to argus that "we are getting there" but honestly we haven't moved an inch from where we used to be.
I'm yet to watch a Nollywood movie that has live scenes like what I'm used to in the REAL Nigeria and not some loaned building. We still have a LONG way to go when it comes to story telling and I've read better novels that make one feel entranced in the story that the memory plays out like a movie.
Our entertainment industry is actually nothing to write home about. Even Charlie Chaplin was able to deliver comedy and entertainment without opening his mouth.
Generally, we're way over our heads in this country. Confusing comfort and development with material possessions.
We are no where as a people and rate amongst the lowest in Africa when it comes to basic infrastructure, comfort and cultural export.
The best we can lay claim to are people who have Nigerian names and were born and brought up in another man's country.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by VillageBoi(m): 9:30pm On Nov 05, 2014|
hahn:I hear you. I know it does feel that way to many people, however, bit by bit some changes are being made. Are they enough considering all the material available to 'the film industry'... NO. I fully understand you.
hahn:Not sure about the 'loaned' building as pretty much every film 'loans' buildings in some way be it paying the owners or building sets and/or replicas and paying for copyright.
Films can never really compare to novels as they are just a 2hr condensed story but you are completely right in saying we have a long way to go when it comes to story telling. I personally do think that is our biggest problem coupled with the fact that the 'story' has to be told 3 times - when written, when filmed and when edited... something somewhere isn't as good as it should be.
Lol nice line - "Confusing comfort and development with material possessions" a very sad but true fact you've stated, can't argue with that.
Oh well, they say "As long as there is life there is hope."
Call it crazy but I am hopeful the Nigerian film industry will get there. There are a number of people out there that know their stuff... albeit most still unknown.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by Csami(m): 11:55pm On Nov 05, 2014|
And you think this is true because? I might agree with the rest but this particular one is not true.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by hahn(m): 2:36pm On Nov 06, 2014|
Nigeria WILL get better. There's nothing crazy about that. We just have to decide on WHEN it will happen.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by hahn(m): 5:03pm On Nov 06, 2014|
I think its true because every single part of the economy doesn't work. Constant power supply is still a dream and so are good roads, quality health care, security etc. Nothing works
I live in Nigeria. How about you?
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by Csami(m): 6:56pm On Nov 06, 2014|
I thought we were talking about nollywood and how they are viewed outside Nigeria? You shifted to culture and how nothing works in the country.
I live in Nigeria and btw, the communication sector works.
|Re: Nollywood And The World: How Nollywood Is Viewed Outside Nigeria by hahn(m): 8:31am On Nov 07, 2014|
Yes we were but I couldn't help but include every other part because the fact that nothing works in Nigeria can be attributed to several common facctors. So, whether we choose to talk about how bad Nollywood is or sports or how absurd it sounds that the minimum wage is N18,000 and senators get paid well over N20m(looting exclusive) for doing nothin, it all bothers to the same factors such as corruption, lack of nationalism, misplaced priorities, selfishness on the part of us, the citizens etc.
Like the simple butterfly effect, our little beliefs and actions displayed inside the comfort of our homes, offices etc all attribute to the rot that we see in every sector of the economy.
You re an optimist and I like that. As regards the communication sector, its ok but can be better.
We really need to start setting higher standards for ourselves in this country
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