Nollywood is kind of like the Australian bread spread, Marmite, which in its own commercials is conscious of its polarizing effect; while there are people who adore Nollywood and will defend it with their dying breath, there are those who still have their reservations and are dismissive of anything coming from it.
Here are excerpts of comments left on previous S&A articles on Nollywood:
— “…In truth, there is little of artistic merit in the works of the majority of the filmmakers.”
— “Excuses Excuses. It is obvious from watching Nollywood films that they don’t watch movies. If they did, it would show in the filmmaking no matter how low the budget. There would be nuances evident in the execution of directing, cinematography and editing, at the least. They just suck at filmmaking.”
There’s some validity in those opinions; Nollywood, like every other film industry, has its good, bad and ugly; however, the films that have led to the formulation of those opinions are a single story.
Imagine a WASP European concluding that he knows what all African American filmmakers have to offer, based only from watching Madea movies, “Booty Call,” “BAPS,” “Soul Plane” and the generic black rom-coms and hood films prevalent in the 90s. While there is an overwhelming amount of those types of films, it’s an incomplete picture that ignores the existence of filmmakers like Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins, Rick Famuyiwa, Ryan Coogler, Dee Rees, Julie Dash and others who bring something else to the table.
Previous articles have highlighted how short films, new voices and web series are diversifying the content in Nollywood’s ecosystem. While this is not a definitive list, as there are some not available online, here are 6 short films that disprove disparaging comments like the sample I shared above:
— “Party of Ministers”
— “The Encounter”
— “Bola’s Dirge”
Just as the popularity, appeal and visibility of Tyler Perry is not representative of all African American filmmaking, not all of Nollywood is represented by the works of a few filmmakers whose films have influenced the general negative perception of Nollywood movies on the international stage. The single story is a disservice to the filmmakers in Nollywood dedicated to excellence in their craft.
Olu Yomi is film culturist, screenwriter & director with a Masters in Creative & Cultural Industries. He has written for television; drama, sitcoms, web series & telenovelas. Short films which he has directed or written have screened at the BFI, Cannes, AFRIFF and other film festivals. He has worked on talk shows, talent hunts and documentaries.