If you like to be entertained, enjoy African culture, and appreciate improvised dialogue, then you'll love a good Nollywood movie. Nollywood is Nigeria's Hollywood. A booming movie industry that is worth more than $450 million a year. It's estimated that around 1,000 movies are made in Nigeria annually, all produced on budgets that rarely exceed $15,000. Within just weeks of being wrapped, a new Nollywood movie can be found in the markets of Johannesburg, Lusaka and Accra. Nollywood movie stars like Genevieve Nnaji, Mercy Johnson and Ramsey Nouah are as popular in Kampala and Nairobi, as they are in Lagos.
A Nollywood movie is shot on the fly with a digital video camera, a few lights, and a handful of versatile actors. It's generally released straight to DVD or VHS and often pirated within days. A successful film can expect to sell around 200,000 copies. At about $2 a piece, this ain't Hollywood, but it's a good living. Nollywood has inspired similar low-budget movie making in Ghana and Uganda and has been blamed for cinemas closing down throughout the continent.
Nollywood movies are popular because they use African actors to tell African stories, that resonate with an African audience. Most of the dialogue is in English, and therefore accessible to a large percentage of Africa's population. In Central and West Africa, Nigerian movies are dubbed into French or local languages. My personal favorite is Osuofia in London, it's hilarious. I actually just bought the DVD online a few weeks ago, and highly recommend it. Other Nollywood titles I've enjoyed include: Diamond Ring and White Waters. If you find yourself hooked on Nollywood movies, there's a whole world of TV Soaps to enjoy too.
Where can you get Nollywood movies?
In the UK, you can subscribe to SKY channel 329 and enjoy them all day long. In the US have a look at Nigeria Films.com. They've got lots of great gossip about Nollywood stars too. A new company that operates like Netflix has been set up to distribute Nollywood fare, check out Irokotv. Nollywood movies are rough and ready, don't expect beautiful cinematography and Dolby stereo sound.
What's your favorite Nollywood movie? Leave a comment below!