Watching a movie is not only a way to spend the evening when you are too tired to work and to awake to sleep. It is also a great way to learn about different cultures and immerse yourself in life realities that differ from your own experience. In a Cultural Diplomacy sense, they serve as both: preparing you before traveling to a new place and helping you to understand people from all over the world when you may not have the chance to travel at the moment. Hence, it is even more important to think and decide carefully about what movies we watch and get informed about the background where and in what context they are produced.
More than Hollywood
Although Hollywood might be the first place that comes to mind when we think of the film industry,Bollywood is in fact the industry releasing the most movies and Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry comes second.
From documentaries to comedy
Nollywood had a difficult start. As an English colony, the country didn’t receive much financial support for its film industry. After Nigeria gained its independence in 1960 many filmmakers such as Ola Balogun, Jab Adu, and Hubert Ogunde started making documentaries. In 1984 the comedy “Papa Ajasco” by Wale Adenuga was released, to never-before-seen popularity and box office sales of around 61 000 nairas in only 3 days.
In the 90s many grassroots filmmakers organized to depict films with signature Nigerian storytelling.
The Nigerian way of storytelling
In the 90s many grassroots filmmakers organized to depict films with signature Nigerian storytelling. Plays by the Yoruba people, who traveled from village to village, were filmed and turned into movies on video cassette tapes. This cheap way of producing movies made it accessible to many more filmmakers like Chris Obi Rapu of the Igbo people. Living in Bondage was his debut film and a leading contribution to Nollywood.
The accessibility and inexpensiveness resulted in many movies being made, with a peak of incredibly 2500 new films a year!
Modern Nigerian Film industry
Today most movies have a small budget of 15 000 to 40 000 dollars and are produced in a very short time period. The accessibility and inexpensiveness resulted in many movies being made, with a peak of incredibly 2500 new films a year! Nollywood is also the second largest employer after agriculture and makes up 5% of Nigeria’s GDP.
The ambivalence of Nollywood
Yet many Nigerians are ambivalent towards Nollywood. The films tell engaging stories and also introduce the audience to the Hausa language and culture, however, many say the production quality gives a bad image of Nigeria towards foreigners. What do you think about them? Give it a try and start with films which natives recommend such as Mr. and Mrs.,The Figurineand Last Flight to Abuja You can stream them on Nollyland, YouTube, or Netflix.
A film can give insights into an exciting culture that you may not have considered before. After exploring the films of Nollywood you might even want to visit Nigeria to see where the movies were filmed. Read our article written by Native Nigerian Adekola and get prepared for your next sustainable trip – which starts with a nice film at home. Movies can introduce you to a whole new world!