Nigerian Nollywood Becomes One Of The World Largest Movie Industry

Okereke Linus "has an imposing physicality," explained Udé, "yet sweet and a positively sunny personality." He added; "since she has this incredibly powerful persona, I wanted to explore the possibility of a dramatic tension" hence the "unexpected stretch of a leg." <br />

Nollywood was born out of a society’s need to tell its stories and share them. When the industry started to take shape in the early 1990s, the nation was still getting its footing with democracy. The framework and conditions to form a proper industry did not exist.

“It developed itself, policed itself and emerged as a global force to be reckoned with,” says Ruth Okediji, a law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and leading scholar of international intellectual property law. “Other nations create laws to stimulate creativity. Here you have a country that can’t stop itself, almost despite itself.”


Born in Nigeria in 1964, the photographer's previous works have been exhibited in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as the Smithsonian Museum of Art.

Nollywood, the term that refers to Nigeria’s film industry, is the second-largest in the world in terms of volume. Some 2,500 films are produced annually, well ahead ofHollywood and second only to India’s Bollywood

In composing Nnaji's portrait, "I was drawing from the grand, iconic African antique cultures of the Nile Valley civilization" says the photographer. "There is a Janus-like moment whereby she motions forward while looking back, as it were, engaging both the past and the future."

Fueled by an established culture of creativity – Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka are two examples – and the large audience in a nation of 175 million and a diaspora population of millions more, Nollywood took off.

Ironically, the same “longstanding ‘informal’ structure” and practices that initially helped establish the industry organically – like low-cost straight-to-DVD films – “now inhibit future domestic and international growth,” according to a 2014 report from the United States International Trade Commission

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

An estimated $1 billion is lost to piracy each year, with bootleg copies of a film often hitting the streets within hours of its release for a fraction of the price. The World Bank estimates that for every 10 Nigerian movies sold, only one is a legitimate sale

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

But if Nigeria’s film industry is to be summed up in one word, it would be resilient. And the $3 billion industry that employs some 1 million people – the second most in the country after agriculture – is finally getting some of the attention it’s due.

The Nigerian Copyright Commission is working to reform a law that governs the ways in which creative people, filmmakers and otherwise, can be compensated for their art and intellectual property. The law has remained static for decades, and according to Okediji, this is a chance to shape the cultural advancement of the country and Nigeria’s global position.

“It’s a new information age, and the government has to be future-minded,” she says. “There has to be a clear vision. The branding campaign will be critical.

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

In addition to a revamped copyright law, other factors are coming together to help set the stage for Nollywood’s financial renaissance.

The nation, and continent, are due for a shift in broadcast signal from analog to digital, a change that will help filmmakers be more strategic about their content and the audiences they market to, according to Dayo Ogunyemi, CEO of distribution firm 234 Films.

“The digital switch-over promises a leveling of the playing field in terms of licenses,” he says. “When selling your work to distributors, you’re not wondering if you have the capacity to reach people, you’re now wondering do I have the programming and product to appeal to a demographic.”

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

Udé has interviewed 64 of Nollywood's biggest stars including actress Genevieve Nnaji, actress turned director Stephanie Okereke Linus and filmmaker Kunle Afolayan. <br />"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.<br />

This grand portrait of all 64 celebrities titled 'The School of Nollywood' is inspired by Raphael's 1509 painting 'The School of Athens', which adorns the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. <br /><br />"It was a daunting undertaking," Udé told CNN, "but worth every effort and breath that I spent on it."

The World Bank, Nigerian government and a number of private international organizations have donated millions to the industry in recent years, and the number of groups that recognize Nollywood as a strategic sector continue to grow


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