Does Africa have a film industry

Welcome to Nollywood

After America and India, Africa now also has its own dream factory - Nollywood: Within a few years, a flourishing film industry has developed in Nigeria, with sales in the millions, a fan audience of several million viewers and pan-African superstars.

The Nigerian film industry is already the third largest in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood. Up to 1,500 films are made here per year, cheaply in guerrilla style in real locations and shot in a few days. On Wednesday, the "Weltjournal" (10.30 p.m., ORF2) reports on the African dream factory.

Horror, action, melodrama
The hour-long Nollywood productions are a bizarre mix of American horror films, opulent Bollywood dramas and Latin American telenovelas. There is a lot of crying, a lot of fighting - and ghosts appear.

The vast majority of Nigerian films are shot in English. This has led to the trend that more and more middle-class Nigerians speak only English with their children. And even simple villagers in remote areas learn the foreign language in this way.

At the same time, the films reach a huge audience not only in Nigeria, but across the continent. The producers do not have exclusively commercial motives: many films deal with problems such as AIDS and corruption in the guise of entertainment films.

"Learning to Overcome Obstacles"
Outside of Africa, Nigeria's thriving film industry has so far been barely noticed. Recently, however, media interest has increased: the 2006 US documentary "This is Nollywood" accompanied director Bond Emeruwa in his project, with a budget (already large for Nollywood standards) of around 14,000 euros, a digital camera, two Lamps and nine days of shooting time to shoot an action film.

That is not always easy. Bond struggles with power outages, street gangs and unreliable actors: "In Nollywood, we don't count obstacles. We learn how to overcome them."

Anyone can be a director
The Nigerian film industry has developed from zero to a 180 million euro industry within a decade and a half.

This boom was only made possible by the development and cheap availability of digital technology. In Nollywood, anyone with access to commercially available video equipment can become a filmmaker: In the meantime, filming is taking place with the first affordable HD cameras, editing and post-production are carried out on the PC, and the end product is sold on DVD or video CD.

The big death in the cinema
In addition, another development has boosted the industry: At the end of the 80s, the cinema died out in Lagos and other major cities.

Due to the rapidly growing crime rate at the time, potential film fans hardly dared to go out on the streets after dark. Many movie theaters had to close, instead a huge market for home theater opened up.

One euro per film
This has led to the establishment of video clubs through which the films are distributed. A typical film sells up to 50,000 copies; real blockbusters often sell several 100,000 copies.

A video CD costs around one euro. This is affordable for almost every Nigerian, and at the same time, good profits result from the high sales and the low production costs. The problem of illegal pirated copies has also been brought under control. The police are cracking down on counterfeiters, and the price of the legal videos has been drastically reduced.

TV notice
On Wednesday, the "Weltjournal" (10.30 p.m., ORF2) takes a look behind the scenes of the dream factory Nollywood - more about this in tv.ORF.at.

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