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Nollywood turns out 2,000 films a year

Wednesday, October 25 2006

The video movie industry of Nigeria is colloquially known as Nollywood. It was derived from Hollywood in the same manner as Bollywood (the Indian film industry).

Nollywood has no studios in the Hollywood sense, but many of the big producers have offices in Surulere, Lagos. Idumota market on Lagos Island, and Onitsha in Anambra State are the primary distritution centres.

The video movies are shot in locations all over Nigeria with distinct regional characteristics between northern movies primarily in the Hausa Language, the Yoruba-language movies produced in the west, and the popular English-language productions shot in the southeast.

The efforts of early Nigerian filmmakers in the 1960s, like Ola Balogun and Hubert Ogunde, were frustrated by the high cost of film production.

All Nollywood movies are produced using digital video technology, although older movies were produced with traditional video, such as Betacam SP.

Television broadcasting in Nigeria began in the 1960s and received much government support in its early years.

By the mid-1980s every state had its own broadcasting station.

Law limited foreign television content so producers in Lagos began televising local popular theatre productions. Many of these were circulated on video as well, and a small scale informal video movie trade developed.

There is some debate concerning what caused this small local market in videos to explode into a booming industry that has pushed foreign media off the shelves in much of Africa and is now marketed all over the world.

Use of English rather than local languages served to expand the market. Aggressive marketing using posters, trailers, and television advertising also played a role in Nollywood’s success.

Many point to the 1992 release of Living in Bondage, a film about a businessman whose dealings with a money cult result in the death of his wife, as the industry’s first blockbuster.

Since then, thousands of movies have been released.

Many Nollywood movies have themes that deal with the moral dilemmas facing modern Africans.

Some movies promote the Christian or Islamic faiths, and some are overtly evangelical, while others address questions of religious diversity, such as the popular film Not Without My Daughter, about a Muslim man and a Christian woman who want to marry but go through many obstacles.

In just 13 years, Nollywood has grown from nothing into a US $250 million dollar-a-year industry that employs thousands of people. Currently, some 300 producers churn out movies at an astonishing rate – somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 a year.


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