I was shocked to discover that the fourth largest maker of films in the world is Nigeria. The country has only had a film industry since the 1990’s but since that time thousands of films have been made there. The industry has been dubbed Nollywood. The majority of the film industry is direct to video but it has reached a point where the films are exported all over Africa and slowly all over the world. The industry grown to the point where other African countries, with the exception of South Africa are overshadowed by Nigeria and up and coming filmmakers are just going to Nigeria to make films instead of in their countries.
The bulk of films made in Nigeria are melodramas usually dealing with the issues facing African people on a daily basis. Some films are faith based, Christian or Muslim and sometimes the two religions mixed together in films like One God One Nation about a Muslim man marrying a Christian woman much to the chagrin of their families. The movies are made cheap, usually for about $17,000 to $23,000 and then end up selling thousands of copies for a couple a bucks a disc. With thousands of movies a year getting made the industry is becoming a $500-million industry and growing. The current president of Nigeria has created a $200 million fund to help the industry out of it’s low budget origins.
The first film that many consider the forerunner of Nollywood was the 1992 thriller Living in Bondage. It’s about a man who joins a cult in an attempt to get rich. Of course he later finds out that he has to sacrifice his wife literally for his wealth. The film was a huge hit and helped start the flood of cheap low budget digital films that make-up Nigeria’s film industry.
Today’s film is the thriller The Figurine (2010). It’s about a two friends who discover an idol that turns out to be Araromire. The legend of Araromire is whoever has touched the idol will have seven years of good luck. The two men suddenly have great luck and rich, successful careers. The downside is after the seven years good luck is seven years bad luck. After the first seven years things start getting bad for the duo.
Like all the films made in Nigeria, this is made on digital and it has the cheap look that reflects it’s modest budget. That said it’s a pretty decent little movie and it won 5 awards at the African Movie Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Heart of Africa, AMAA Achievement in Cinematography and AMAA Achievement in Visual Effect. Give the industry a few more years of growth and Hollywood might have some more competition.