The Nigerian movie industry is outproducing both Hollywood and Bollywood in terms of sheer numbers, with its films being shown not just throughout Africa, but also in European and American cities with African immigrant populations.
“Our film sector is facing a great future,” Emeka Mba, director-general of Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors’ Board, told dpa.
The Nigerian daily National Mirror even trumpets that Nollywood – the term given to Nigeria’s home-grown dream factory – is set “to conquer the world.”
Much of the low-cost production is given over to melodrama, with love, power and treachery as the main themes. Television channels like Africa Magic broadcast Nigerian productions round the clock – much like the telenovelas in Brazil.
However, to make the leap to international success, Nigeria’s cheap mass-produced films would need a large cash injection and improved production conditions.
In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to provide government funding worth 200 million dollars to promote the entertainment sector.
That sum could give Nollywood a much-needed boost, but filmmakers complain that the lofty promises have yet to be followed by deeds.
Nigerians may compare their film industry with Hollywood and Bollywood, but in reality, they are in a different league.
Nollywood may churn out between 1,000 and 2,000 films a year. But the annual turnover of the entire Nigerian film industry is only around 250 million dollars, according to Mba. That is about the same as the budget of a single Harry Potter or Spiderman movie.
Observers love to praise the “promising grassroots movement of African film,” as Italian filmmaker Franco Sacchi put it. Nigerian films regularly take prizes at African film festivals, with plots based on themes like the clash between African tradition and post-colonial modernism.
But Nollywood has had little success at international events. This