A 15-second drum roll and the title of the film, "Deceptive Heart," comes crashing onto the screen in a groovy 1970s font.
Less than 10 minutes into the Nollywood movie, the heart of plot is revealed: A woman has two boyfriends and doesn't know what to do.
The story moves as quickly as the film appears to have been shot. Some scenes are shaky, with cameras clearly in need of a tripod, and musical montages are often filled with pans of the same building.
International model Naomi Campbell(right) with Nollywood superstar Genevieve Nnaji
Most Nollywood movies are made in less than 10 days and cost about $25,000.
Fueled by low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigeria's film industry has grown by some estimates over the past 20-plus years into the most prolific on Earth, pushing out more movies a year than Hollywood in California or Bollywood in Mumbai, India.
Hollywood tends to portray Africa as an exotic land of deserts and giraffes, populated by huddling masses, according to Samuel Olatunje, a Nollywood publicist known in the business as "Big Sam."
Nigerian movies are popular because they portray African people more accurately, Big Sam explains outside his single-room Lagos office. They explore African issues rarely touched on in Hollywood — magic, tribal loyalties, the struggle to modernize.
"Stories that you can relate to," he says.
Ventures Africa business magazine says Nollywood knocks out 2,000 titles a year and is the third-largest earner in the movie world, after Bollywood and Hollywood. The $250-million industry employs more than a million people.
Artists say Nigeria's bad infrastructure and chaotic legal system prevent them from making films that are as impressive in their quality as they are in quantity.
"You'll find that we're having to make do," legendary Nollywood actor Olu Jacobs explains at an exclusive country club in Lagos.
Trained at Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Jacobs says Nigerian artists often have the same artistic capacity as their Western counterparts, but not the same financial capacity. "We're not happy because the finished product doesn't have the finish that it should have," he says.
Later that day, Jacob's driver inches his car through grinding traffic in Lagos, the African megalopolis as chaotic and bustling as any Nollywood production scene. A young businessman in an SUV nearly cuts him off. The SUV driver's eyes grow wide when he recognizes Jacobs, and he smiles like a child meeting Santa Claus. He lets the actor's car pass in front.
Nollywood was born, so the story goes, when Kenneth Nnebue, a video storeowner, had too many blank tapes in the early 1990s. To find a use for them, he shot "Living in Bondage" with a single camera for video. The protagonist joins a secret cult and kills his wife in a ritual sacrifice that wins him enormous wealth but leaves him haunted. The movie was an instant hit, selling 500,000 copies.
But at the country club, Jacobs says modern Nollywood is no accident. When he returned to Nigeria from the London stage in the early 1980s, he, like many other artists, knew he could make successful movies at home.
"We all knew that we had a market," he says. "When I grew up, cinemas were always filled up. Stage performances were all ways full. Why shouldn't there be?"
More than 30 Nigerian celebrities from Nollywood, sports and the entertainment industry will soon undertake a nationwide tour to preach peace and unity across the country.
They said this would be part of their collective effort at spreading the message of peace in the minds of Nigerians, especially the youths on the need to leave in peace.
The group, operating under the aegis of Voice of Change Foundation of Nigeria (VCFN), an NGO, the celebrities comprise people like Emeka Ike, Genevieve Nnaji, Coach Stephen Keshi, Celestine Babayaro and Omotola Ekehinde.
A statement issued on Sunday in Abuja and signed by the group National Public Relations Officer, Mr Steph Nora-Okere, said that this became necessary due to the present challenges and threat to peaceful coexistence.
The statement said that the programme, which would commence before the end of the year would cover the six geopolitical zones, preaching the message of peace and the need to leave together.
“We decided to come together to preach the gospel of peace as it has become more necessary now than ever before.
“Every great country has passed through its moment of political, economic and religious tensions and had survived.
“The troubles our Nigeria is going through now with ethnic violence, militancy, the unrest in the North and the threat of disintegration, requires that things be quickly put in their right perspective.
“As celebrities and stakeholders, we have a lot to contribute to the peace building effort of government at all levels.
“This movement is not aligned to any party or individuals but we are committed to bringing our talents and leverage to help the country through this difficult moment.’’
The statement said that the group would deploy the abundance of talents in the areas of sports and the entertainment industry for the good of the country. (NAN)
The film tells the story of an African-American cancer specialist in New York, Michael Durant, who seeks the assistance of an uncertified Nigerian doctor to save a young patient. The Nigerian doctor, an immigrant living in Brooklyn named Dr. Bello, administers the patient a secret African potion. But the unorthodox treatment leads to Dr. Durant’s suspension and Dr. Bello’s imprisonment for malpractice.
When Dr. Bello himself falls ill, Dr. Durant goes in search of a secret elixir, found only in the mountains of Nigeria, in a place called the “Garden of Life.”
Mr. Abulu hopes the film and its international story line would have special appeal for African-American audiences.
Alongside A-list Nollywood stars, including Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke, he cast several Hollywood actors, including Isaiah Washington, best known for “Grey’s Anatomy”; Vivica A. Fox (“Kill Bill” and “Independence Day,” among others); and Jimmy Jean-Louis (the NBC series “Heroes”).
A Nollywood without Oscar nominations in 2013
"Whether Nollywood wins Oscars or not , we will keep watching their movies . We have our AMAA to rate our movies by . Hollywood cannot be best friends with Nollywood because the later snatched away millions of their viewers around the world . The two movie giant houses are worlds apart . Nollywood deals with our everyday situations we face in life while Hollywood is too abstract and theoretical." - T. Thomas, January 17, 2013
When Hollywood announced its 2013 Oscar Award nominations earlier this month, it was said that many Nollywood stars braved the time difference and were wide awake to hear the nomination row-call. When it came to nominations for Best Foreign Language Films, no single Nollywood or Nigerian movies were nominated. Some of the Nollywood stars were said to be little disappointed by Hollywood for not giving Nollywood its due respect or 'props' as she mightily deserved.
Nollywood should recognize that Oscar's Academy Award is in the business of promoting Hollywood and swelling the bank account of its people. Nollywood has been phenomenal, within a span of ten years it has replaced Hollywood as the second largest movie producers, while Bollywood of India continued to take the first place. Nollywood is gradually but steadily becoming a business competitor to Hollywood in Africa, if not beyond.
In profitability and superb organizational structure, Hollywood runs supreme. As noted by Slate: In 2004, “the six major studios—Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony, and their subsidiaries—had total revenues of $7.4 billion from world box-office sales, $20.9 billion from world video sales, and $17.7 billion from world television licensing.” Hollywood is very profitable and entertaiment industry gives United States its second largest foreign revenue. And Hollywod cultural influence, as a leverage for soft power cannot be overemphasised.
In comparison, “Nigeria’s Nollywood is the third largest film industry worldwide right behind Hollywood in the US and India’s Bollywood. Its filmmakers have mastered the art of producing entertaining popular media with low production costs and high revenue gains. According to Black Enterprise, Nollywood produces more than 2000 moves each year and brings in $250 million in profit.” as Charlotte Young wrote in Madamenoire. Nollywood has the potential to be a global juggernut akin to Hollywood but more work must done in establishing legal frameworks and entertaiment infrastructures including copy write laws, protection of intellectual property and adequate distribution centers.
First of all, it makes sense to explain how foreign movies are nominated for Oscar awards. The first thing to do is to submit a movie or movies for nominations. Secondly, lobby the Academy Board for selection and when nominated go further and intensify the lobbying to get the voters to support the movie. The later may require hiring a Hollywood agent in order to make it possible.
Without any inquiry and probing, I have the hunch that energetic Nollywood film makers will definitely submit movies for consideration. For now that is good enough for Nollywood for only time will take care of being part of the nominations and winners.
Nollywood film will never be selected or win Oscar award unless it has a Hollywood connection and by this I mean financial or monetary interest. Nollywood has not even recognized how powerful she is becoming, for Nollywood poses a business threat to Hollywood especially in Africa and developing nations. What Nollywood did in Africa and beyond was to displace Hollywood by telling the stories average Africans can identify with and not some tinseltown stories that are quite far away from African experience and cultural make-up.
Nollywood has captured the spirit and soul of Africa on a motion picture. The Nollywood is antithetical to the Hollywood early movies that make mockery of Africa by distorting her humanity with comical and disparaging projections. The Nollywood experience is a resourceful mouthpiece for the old and new Africa - the good, bad, rich, poor, and of course the authentic Africa which is rooted on African perspective. Nollywood stands for something beyond just making movies but a movement that illustrates, defines and captures Africa's sense and sensibility without seeking for permission or apology unlike African polity.
The introduction of the category for Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film started in 1956. The much older and established Bollywood has been submitting their movies from 1957 to the present day. With all the movies submitted, Bollywood has only been nominated for three movies and none has ever won.
Nollywood has every attribute just like Hollywood to give it an international acceptance. Nollywood have the glitz, gossip, brains and beauty; and Nollywood stars are gaining name recognition in the world. The works of and faces like Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh are gaining a growing acceptance in the film world. In nearest future many Nollywood stars will be invited to become part of Hollywood because of the enormous talents, moreover there is money to be made in Nollywood’s Nigeria and Africa. It is already happening in the music industry, you have many American musicians collaborating with P Square and D’Banji.
With Africa's exploding population and purchasing power, time is on the side of Nollywood. The time is not distant away when Hollywood will beckons Nollywood for collaboration and partnership. Nollywood must be persistence and must not relent on her quest to entertain the world.
Hollywood actor, Denzel Washington, is expected to arrive in Nigeria next week to take part in the shooting of Spider Basket, a new movie funded by Nigerian businessman, Dennis Osadebe.
Osadebe himself arrived in Nigeria from his base in Turkey last Friday in company with his Turkish partner, Abdulkadir Erkahraman.
Osadebe’s decision to invest in the entertainment industry appears driven by his faith in the abundant talents in the country.
“Denzel is just one of many Hollywood stars that I want to witness the talents in this country and to impact significantly on Nollywood. Others are coming. My secaond movie, By Fire by Force, is due to be premiered this month,” Osadebe said.
Osadebe’s DCS Entertainment has signed up two Nigerian artistes, Wandy Boy and V2K.
The FVPMAN chairman, Onitsha branch, Mr. Uzo Godson Nwosu who confirmed this development, said the decision became necessary following the position taken by their Ghanaian counterparts who have banned the distribution of Nigerian films in their country long time ago.
According to him “starting from the first week of August, no Ghanaian film will be allowed to enter the Nigerian market again. We have resolved that no Ghanaian film will be distributed within our controlled market. Our Ghanaian counterparts have long stopped distributing our films in their country, and given this development, we have no choice than to reciprocate the gesture.”
Nwosu who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Guinks Investment said any of their members who failed to compile with this new order will either be prosecuted or have his goods confiscated by the association.
The marketer said the association is finalising plans to storm Ghana any moment from now, particularly to confront those local television stations who are illegally airing Nigerian films without obtaining permission from the right owners.
Pete Edochie, Nollywood movie star
Also, given the problem associated with “second tier market”(where a producer is compelled to observe a three-month grace before releasing his film into the market in a large quality), Nwosu said the association has decided to reversed the trend.
Film owners, according to him, are now free to release their films into the market without necessarily observing the mandatory three months grace before doing so.
They will also be required to obtain censors’ board and copy right commission’s documents in addition to registering the film with the sum of N10,000 with the FVPMAN.
“In order to move the association forward, we have resolved to address the problem of second tier market.” FVPMAN boss further stated.
Kunle Afolayan wants to scare you, he wants thrill you, he wants to make you laugh, but most of all, he would like you to suspend your disbelief — in his plots, yes, which tend to be over the top, but also about what is possible in Africa. He bristles if you call him an “African filmmaker” — a phrase redolent of art-house cinema, which his work assuredly is not. He wants to make huge, explosive, American-style blockbusters, and he wants to make them where he lives — in Nigeria. His ambitions may sound implausible. Nigeria lacks even a reliable supply of electricity. But it does contain a chaotic creative energy that has made it the world’s most prolific producer of films.
Twenty years after bursting from the grungy street markets of Lagos, the $500 million Nigerian movie business churns out more than a thousand titles a year on average, and trails only Hollywood and Bollywood in terms of revenues. The films are hastily shot and then burned onto video CDs, a cheap alternative to DVDs. They are seldom seen in the developed world, but all over Africa consumers snap up the latest releases from video peddlers for a dollar or two. And so while Afolayan’s name is unknown outside Africa, at home, the actor-director is one of the most famous faces in the exploding entertainment scene known — inevitably — as “Nollywood.”
On a continent where economies usually depend on extracting natural resources or on charity, moviemaking is now one of Nigeria’s largest sources of private-sector employment. Walls around Lagos are plastered with posters reading, “Actors/Actresses Wanted.” Nollywood stars are everywhere, from billboards to glossy tabloids filled with pictures of red-carpet events. The African Movie Academy Awards, held each year in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, have become a lavish spectacle, drawing visitors like Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover. Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has recruited Nollywood stars to campaign with him, while Afolayan and others have lent prominent support to a protest movement called “Occupy Nigeria.”
And yet most of the movies themselves are awful, marred by slapdash production, melodramatic acting and ludicrous plots. Afolayan, who is 37, is one of a group of upstart directors trying to transcend those rote formulas and low expectations. His breakthrough film, the 2009 thriller “The Figurine,” was an aesthetic leap: while no viewer would confuse it with “Citizen Kane,” to Nigerians it announced the arrival of a swaggering talent keen to upset an immature industry. Unlike most Nollywood fare, “The Figurine” was released in actual theaters, not on cheap discs, playing to packed houses next to Hollywood features. “Many observers,” Jonathan Haynes, a scholar of Nollywood, recently wrote, “have been waiting a long time for this kind of filmmaking, which can take its place in the international arena proudly and on equal terms.”
In contrast to Nollywood’s chiseled leading men, Afolayan is stout, speaks with a laid-back drawl and has a noticeable scar on one side of his face from a car accident. But he has undeniable charisma — a quality his admirers say he inherited from his father, an actor and legendary playboy. One sticky August night, I accompanied Afolayan on a prowl through Lagos, weaving through the metropolis in his monstrous pickup truck. We ended up at an open-air nightclub called King Sized, where heads turned as he made his entrance with a boisterous entourage. In West Africa, a famous presence demands recognition, so the resident highlife band swiftly shifted into an impromptu praise song. “Kunle Afolayan,” the vocalist began to trill, “Kunle Afolayan is here!”
As the singer celebrated his name, Afolayan nonchalantly sipped from a sweaty beer bottle. This was a scripted ritual; the entertainment didn’t come free. The chorus reached a crescendo as Afolayan, dressed in faded jeans and bursting from a sheer white shirt, came forward with a huge stack of Nigerian banknotes. He began to dance, shaking his hips and moving his feet, casting off bills with fluid flicks of his wrist — a tribute Nigerians call “spraying.” A band member crawled around, scooping up cash, while Afolayan delighted in the adulation.
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Many African and Nollywood actors are living in Houston
Ben Affleck - Hollywood actor, writer, director and now an advocate for Democratic Republic of Cong wants to make a movie about Congo. Ben Affleck is the founder of the advocacy group, Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), has just returned back from his recent trip to the eastern African country of Congo that has been bedeviled with instability since the era of cold war. Ben Affleck an actor, writer and director is asking Hollywood to finance a movie on Congo but he has received rejection letters from Hollywood moguls, movie financial houses and financiers.
"I would love to make a movie about Congo, but unfortunately I've asked Hollywood folks and they always say, ah, nobody wants to see a movie about Africa," said Affleck. "I think that points to this general sense that people sort of tune out, that it doesn't matter," he said in an interview.
"It's also a function of trends and conventional wisdom: if it comes down to a movie with fighting robots or a movie on what's happening in eastern Congo, you're not going to win."
Speaking and sounding like an expert on a panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on U.S. foreign policy in Washington D.C: “In eastern Congo, conflict and insecurity continue while the guns have fallen silent in other parts," claiming some 3.5 million lives. Ben Affleck emphasis further from the prepared report by the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), “The international community -- and the US in particular -- must do more to address the challenges in eastern Congo if another failure of humanity is to be averted in central Africa.”
Two short documentaries about eastern Congo have already been made last year by Affleck that was shot at Nord-Kivu region Of Congo. The 23-minute video called "Gimme Shelter,” featuring Rolling Stones' hit song was collaborated with Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger.
Affleck said that making a movie on Africa has its problems, “But the other problem with movies about Africa is that there are no African movie stars in the United States. So the lead has to be someone who's American, and you have to figure out how to get an American person wedged into a story about Africa."
But maybe Ben Affleck has not heard about Nigeria’s Nollywood actors in America and Nigeria. Many experienced African actors and directors are living and working in Houston, Texas.
More on Democratic Republic of Congo
Affleck in Congo & tragedy in DRC
From Mobutu Dictatorship to Kabila Disintegration
“Laurent-Desire Kabila marched into Kinshasa on May 17, 1997 and declared himself president. He consolidated power around himself and the AFDL and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.). Kabila's Army Chief and the Secretary General of the AFDL were Rwandan, and RPA units continued to operate tangentially with the D.R.C.'s military, which was renamed the Forces Armees Congolaises (FAC).
Over the next year, relations between Kabila and his foreign backers deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila ordered all foreign troops to leave the D.R.C. Most refused to leave. On August 2, nationwide fighting erupted as Rwandan troops in the D.R.C. "mutinied," and fresh Rwandan and Ugandan troops entered the country. Two days later, Rwandan troops flew to Bas-Congo, with the intention of marching on Kinshasa, ousting Kabila, and replacing him with the newly formed Rwandan-backed rebel group called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD). The Rwandan campaign was thwarted at the last minute when Angolan, Zimbabwean, and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the D.R.C. Government. The Rwandans and the RCD withdrew to eastern D.R.C., where they established de facto control over portions of eastern D.R.C. and continued to fight the Congolese army and its foreign allies.
In February 1999, Uganda backed the formation of a rebel group called the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC), which drew support from among ex-Mobutuists and ex-Zairian soldiers in Equateur province (Mobutu's home province). Together, Uganda and the MLC established control over the northern third of the D.R.C.
At this stage, the D.R.C. was divided de facto into three segments--one controlled by Laurent Kabila, one controlled by Rwanda, and one controlled by Uganda--and the parties had reached military deadlock. In July 1999, a cease-fire was proposed in Lusaka, Zambia, which all parties signed by the end of August. The Lusaka Accord called for a cease-fire, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the launching of an "Inter-Congolese Dialogue" to form a transitional government leading to elections. The parties to the Lusaka Accord failed to fully implement its provisions in 1999 and 2000. Laurent Kabila drew increasing international criticism for blocking full deployment of UN troops, hindering progress toward an Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and suppressing internal political activity.
On January 16, 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated, allegedly by a member of his personal bodyguard corps who was in turn killed by an aide-de-camp. Kabila was succeeded by his son Joseph, who reversed many of his father's negative policies. Over the next year, the UN peacekeeping mission in the D.R.C. (United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known by its French acronym MONUC) deployed throughout the country, and the Inter-Congolese Dialogue proceeded. By the end of 2002, all Angolan, Namibian, and Zimbabwean troops had withdrawn from the D.R.C. Following D.R.C.-Rwanda talks in South Africa that culminated in the Pretoria Accord in July 2002, Rwandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in October 2002. However, there were continued, unconfirmed reports that Rwandan soldiers and military advisers remained integrated with the forces of an RCD splinter group (RCD/G) in eastern D.R.C. Ugandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in May 2003.” (US State Dept.)