The rapidly growing area of African cinema

For years Hollywood has attempted to tell Africa’s story- but this is invariably flawed because it is seen through a western prism. With movies like Blood Diamond, Tears of the Sun and The Last King of Scotland, African’s have been depicted as destructive and uncivilized, brutally killing one another for personal gain. Often the African story is left untold, as an Academy Award is enough to dismiss all questions of truth. African’s, however, come from an oral tradition. They are storytellers by nature, which is perhaps what makes African Cinema so attractive. What is possibly most interesting about Nollywood, is its raw delivery of the city of Lagos as a dangerous place, indulged in heavy doses of drama, with a hint of dark west-African witchcraft. A limited amount of capital to fund such things as the building of sets’ has made Nollywood a phenomenal medium to explore the city of Lagos and learn more about the Nigerian culture through location shooting.

At the start of its era, few people would have suspected the Nigerian Film Industry, commonly referred to as ‘Nollywood’, of having the potential to produce the highest number of films in the world. Today, Bollywood is battling to hold this title as Nollywood was ranked second in 2009, beating the United States, according to a global cinema survey conducted by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Some might compare it to the United States variation of Fordism in the 1940s -1960s, where mass production encouraged mass consumption. Similarly in Lagos, mass production of cheaply made feature films distributed commonly on VCD and DVD, has made it affordable for everyone to enjoy; targeting an audience that expands further than those who can afford the luxuries of movie tickets.

Although there are distinct differences between Nollywood and Hollywood, Nollywood has borrowed some ideas from its American rival. On the 30th May 2005, the first African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) ceremony was held in Nigeria, to recognize the people responsible for Africa’s best 2004 films. Not only does this shed light on some of Africa’s star talent, but it has also created an incentive for producers and directors in other nations of the African continent to strive for excellence. For example, in 2011, the AMAA’s received the highest number of entries from Kenya, adding up to a total of 27 entries. Winning an AMAA is also, reportedly, a way to win access into the world film festival circuits, which could open doors to more funding for African film projects as well as international acclaim.


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