[NEWS AND VIEWS]
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December 08, 2003The Nollywood story - home video has revolutionised the film industry here. It's provided an alternative to the foreign dramas and soaps that still dominate network television. Daily Summit talked to Charles Ozoemena of the Vanguard.
"It started in the early nineties. The film which began the revolution was called Living in Bondage. It's the story of an ordinary man and his family. He does a business deal that results in the death of his wife. Her ghost comes back to haunt him. He has no peace until by the end the Church comes to his rescue.
Ozoemena argues, "it has established a recognisably African cinema with themes ranging through romance, friendship and family. In a country with an estimated population of 120 million the market is large. Nearly every home has a TV and video player. Even if they cannot afford to buy the films there are rental outlets in all of the urban areas".
The films are largely made in Lagos but the commercial city of Onitsha is the nerve centre for the distribution system of this flourishing industry. "Production values remain a long way behind the foreign imports" says Ozoemena, "but they are beginning to catch up and investing in the right technological materials. Some of the actors and actresses can earn up to 1.5 million Naire (6500 pounds) per movie".
While it may not yet have found a comfortable home within the mainstream, the Nigerian Film Board has not been able to ignore it. The films are now examined before general release, and pornographic or violent scenes excised. Classifications are applied. Many hope that within the next fifteen to twenty years it will close the gap with the film industries of the developed world.