In de ban van Nollywood

February 2006 -

Hollywood and Bollywood have a new competitor: Nollywood. Each year the Nigerian film industry produces about one thousand movies, often with a budget of less than € 10,000 a piece. In the past decade, it is estimated that this generated revenues totaling some two hundred millions dollars.

Due to the economic recession of the 1980s, Nigeria has only a few movie theatres, which is why Nollywood relies heavily on the home-video industry. The at least twenty new films that appear each week are immediately available on video or DVD, ready for at-home viewing. The production schedule lasts a month at most.



Although the history of Nigerian cinema originates in the early 1970s, Nollywood’s success did not start until 1993, with Living in Bondage by producer Kenneth Nnebue. Now a distinction is made between four genres: Rags to Riches, similar to the classical American Dream soaps, historical epos, comedies, and Hallelujah, in which Jesus comes to save the day right on time.

The popularity of Nigerian films now stretches to far beyond the country’s borders. Nollywood actors are welcomed as stars virtually throughout the African continent. Uganda dreams of having its own Ugandawood, and Ghana is threatening to close its market to the cascade of Nigerian movies for fear that its own productions will drown in the rush. Even international festivals in Montreal, Berlin, Rotterdam and Cannes have made room for Nollywood. The first Nollywood production ever to be introduced on the American DVD market, Joshua by Adim Williams, came in late in December 2005

Nevertheless, clouds are gathering above the Nigerian film paradise. Illegal copies of the most popular films are increasingly discovered in video kiosks. Nollywood also has the highest number of debutantes, often fake producers hoping to get rich quick in the lucrative video industry. And one genre is rapidly growing: pornography.