Moving Nigerian filmmaking beyond Nollywood

Being a filmmaker in Africa comes with many challenges

After decades of churning out drama on daily life and social customs in Nigeria, Nollywood has grown into a 239 billion Naira industry ($658 million) and grabbed global attention.

However, a new generation of filmmakers, like C.J Obasi who directed “Hello Rain”, a Nigerian sci-fi film is looking to chart a departure from the conventional and move Nigerian filmmaking beyond Nollywood’s typical offerings.

“When you think about the Nigerian film industry you automatically think about Nollywood, but with Nollywood comes a certain style of film, a certain genre of film, a certain aesthetic that is associated with Nigerian filmmaking,” Obasi told CNN.

“But then there is a new breed of filmmaker… who want to tell new stories, make new films and really explore genre filmmaking in a way that hasn’t necessarily been seen.”

The new breed that Obasi speaks of is made up of young filmmakers, who for all their ability, are short on experience and the resources they need to challenge the industry.

But according to its founder, the biggest hurdle may be the pressure to balance their expectations and be profitable.

“It will always be about the money for us here because we don’t have enough cinemas, we don’t have enough outlets,” says Jane Maduegbuna, Afrinolly’s executive director.

“It’s always going to be how you get great content for less money and then get it out to as many people as you can.”

Chioma Ude – Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Ude is the founder of the Africa International Film Festival.

Osas Ighodaro Ajibade – Born in the Bronx, New York, Ighodaro Ajibade moved to Nigeria in 2012 and has starred in over 20 movies since relocating.

Jim Iyke Esomugha – The Gabon-born actor has starred in over 100 movies.

Kiki Omeili – Lagos-born Omeili has been in 32 Nollywood movie productions.

Kunle Afolayan – Born in Lagos, Afolayan has produced and directed five Nollywood movies to date.

Kehinde Bankole – The Lagos-born actress has starred in over 10 movies.

Taiwo Ajai-Lycett – Born in Lagos, Ajai-Lycett is a fellow of the Society of Nigerian Theatre Artists.

Uti Nwachukwu – Born in the Delta State, Nwachukwu has starred in over 15 movies.

Monalisa Chinda – Port-Harcourt born Chinda has starred in over 150 movies since her first major film in 1996.

Linda Ihuoma Ejiofor – Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ejiofor has been in 10 Nollywood movies to date.

Desmond Elliot – The Lagos -born actor has been in a whopping 200

Eku Edewor – Nigerian born, New York based Iké Udé has been described as a master of portraiture, having created portraits of the world’s most internationally recognized celebrities including actress and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and singer Rihanna.

Sadiq Daba – Udé has interviewed 64 of Nollywood’s biggest stars including actress Genevieve Nnaji, actress turned director Stephanie Okereke Linus and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan.
“Nollywood is the new face of Africa,” said Udé, “it is modern, postmodern, bold, sexy, wicked and shrewd, with a contagious attitude worth catching.” Its appeal has spread far beyond Nigeria with movies sold and produced almost globally.

Beverly Naya – The industry has come leaps and bounds from the low tech productions it was once associated with, to producing big budget high quality features tackling a plethora of subjects from sexuality to government politics and identity.
It’s thought to contribute around $600 million annually to the Nigerian economy.

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