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Hooray for Nollywood

Hollywood – The popular films produced by the American movie industry for global distribution.Bollywood – the popular films produced by the Indian movie industry for global distribution.Nollywood – the popular films produced in Nigeria for global distribution.The Washington Post this…
November 11, 2003

Hollywood – The popular films produced by the American movie industry for global distribution.

Bollywood – the popular films produced by the Indian movie industry for global distribution.

Nollywood – the popular films produced in Nigeria for global distribution.

The Washington Post this weekend published an article documenting the rising circulation in North America of films produced in Nigeria. Nollywood is a thriving local film industry which has emerged almost full grown in recent years as a response to the lowered costs of production and distribution in the new media environment. Most of the feature films are produced on digital video for budgets of less than $8000. Less than a decade ago, most African countries produced only a few films a year. Now, Nigeria is a thriving production center. They are distributed via video or DVD at relatively low costs across Africa. They are inspired, in part, by video imports of Bollywood movies into the African market. They are entering the west via ethnic grocery stores but more and more, they are available via the web which increases their distribution beyond the migr community itself. They are enabling immigrants to maintain stronger ties back to their mother countries and to give their children access to traditional African culture and values. Ironically, while new media has helped to facilitate the Nollywood cinema, it may also be its point of vulnerability – these subsistence level filmmakers are highly vulnerable to digital piracy.

Critics argue that the new media environment will simply expand western access to global markets. It certainly will do that. But everyday we are seeing some signs that it is also increasing the flow of nonwestern media into western markets.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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