Storytelling lies at the heart of African culture — and now it’s digital.
This Is Nollywood tells the story of the Nigerian film industry—a revolution enabling Africans with few resources to tell African stories to African audiences. Despite all odds, Nigerian directors produce between 500 and 1,000 movies a year. The disks sell wildly all over the continent—Nollywood actors have become stars from Ghana to Zambia.
We experience the world of Nollywood through acclaimed director Bond Emeruwa's quest to make a feature-length action film in just nine days. Armed only with a digital camera, two lights, and about $20,000, Bond faces challenges unimaginable in Hollywood and Bollywood.
Electricity goes out. Street thugs demand extortion money. The lead actor doesn’t show. During one crucial scene, prayers blast from loudspeakers atop a nearby mosque, making shooting impossible. But, as Bond says, “In Nollywood we don’t count the walls. We learn how to climb them.”
In Nigeria’s teeming capital of Lagos, we attend an audition where hundreds of hopeful actors vie for their chance in the limelight. We meet some of the industry’s founding fathers who tell us of their responsibility to educate their massive audiences: many of the films deal with AIDS, corruption, women’s rights, and other topics of concern to ordinary Africans. The impetus behind Nollywood is not purely commercial; the traditional role of storytelling is still alive and well — just different.
This Is Nollywood shows how the egalitarian promise of digital technology has found realization in one of the world’s largest and poorest cities. And it shows the universal theme of people striving to fulfill their dreams.
“We are telling our own stories in our own way, our Nigerian way, African way,” Bond says. “I cannot tell the white man's story. I don't know what his story is all about. He tells me his story in his movies. I want him to see my stories too.”