STRENGTHENING FRANCO-NIGERIAN TIES THROUGH NIGERIAN CINEMA
The Nigerian film industry popularly called Nollywood has recorded huge success, contributing largely to the country’s economy and global fame. The sector has carved for itself a unique niche through a low budget, short spanned home movie production. In the early 90s, with the first home video ‘Living in Bondage’, Nigerian film industry began witnessing a boom as it entertained the Nigerian society through films, despite the near non-existent cinema culture at the time. In recent times, landmark progress has been made as cinema attendance in Nigeria has been revamped and the industry has evolved into the second largest movie industry in the world in terms of output. in 2014, the Nigerian government asserted that Nollywood is a $3.3 billion sector, with 1844 movies produced in 2013 alone. With such a feat, it is no surprise that this sector is a major pillar of the Nigerian creative industry. To fully explore this goldmine, the Nigerian government set up the Project ACT Nollywood which is a three billion naira grant programme aimed at addressing challenges within the sector. One of such challenges is the unending battle to eradicate piracy.
Impressively, the international community in Nigeria realizes the importance of cinematography in Nigeria. Earlier this year during the 2018 Francophone festival celebration in Nigeria, Mr. Denys Gauer, French Ambassador to Nigeria spoke on the French embassy’s willingness, in collaboration with other embassies to set up film schools in Nigeria. In his words, “French embassy along with the Japanese and German embassies, are working together with the Nigerian government to create film schools in Nigeria. We are working on Cinema schools in Nigeria, we are organizing animated film workshops, it is all about training. This will help our course to improve the Nigerian economy as well as the cultural/bilateral relationship between our countries.” The ambassador reiterated commitment on the part of Nigeria and France to sustain healthy bilateral ties aimed and targeted towards economic advancement.
Regarding international reach, Nigerians in diaspora usually play a major role in taking the Nigerian cinema brand beyond the African shores; albeit, this was not the case in France. Nollywood’s official take off in the French cinema space did not happen as swiftly as in other countries like the U.S and the U.K. Arguably, language impediment might have been one of the underlying factors responsible for this. The tides changed in 2013 with the advent of the Nollywood week hosted by Okada Media. This year’s event which took place in Paris from the 3rd to 6th of May was the 6th edition of the programme. It featured trending movies of note such as Alter Ego, Kasala and the much sought out ELFIKE production The Wedding party 2. A highlight of the event was the premiere of TRINO studios’ first feature film Sylvia. Speaking for Okada Media, Mr. Serge Noukoue noted that the event was to showcase Nigerian cinema to an international audience with the aim of making a significant imprint of its rich cultural nuance on the French cinema world. Indeed, the 6th edition of Nollywood Week marked another laudable feat for promoting the Nigerian film industry in France which is renowned for being the birthplace of cinema.
Although Okada Media stands out for its niche of promoting Nollywood through its annual cinema event, it is not alone in the pursuit of bridging the gap by involving the French-speaking world in Nigeria film industry. Nollywood TV gives French-speaking viewers the opportunity to enjoy Nigerian films in the comfort of their homes. The channel is hosted by South African entertainment television giant M-Net/MultiChoice group host of the popular channel Africa Magic and is the first French-language television channel established solely for the purpose of showcasing Nollywood films. It was no surprise therefore that they played a visible role as partners of the Nollywood Week event. Also present was Nollygo TV, a Paris-based platform which seeks to showcase music, African cinema, and filmmakers to the European world. It is hoped that this remarkable event will yield strong French Nigerian ties in cinema.
In conclusion, our Spotlight Nigeria 2018 event holding from the 4th to 5th of October, 2018, will further spotlight on opportunities for investments across Nigeria’s film and creative industries.