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Nollywood: The Other Hollywood

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Authored by Jon Mercer in Movies and Television
Published on 02-27-2009

The Nigerian film industry is affectionately known as Nollywood. They produce DVD’s in boldly colored boxes that bear titles like “Hidden Tears,” and “Crime of Love.” Huge numbers of these films can be found in mom and pop stores around the country and some even in your local video store. And lately, the Nigerian movie industry seems to be taking the world by storm.

The main US distributor for these movies is African Movies Mall, a New York City-based company that, for the last seven-years, has created a thriving wholesale and retail film business operating out of a two-hundred square foot building in the West Bronx. The company has been distributing African movies from Nigeria all over the world, helping Nollywood to become the third largest movie industry in the world, behind only Hollywood in the US and Bollywood in India.

While the population of Nigerians in most of our nation’s major cities is still relatively small, these Nollywood films have an enormous following within African and Caribbean communities. Rabiu Mohammed, the owner of African Movies Mall, says that his inventory runs up to three-hundred-thousand DVD’s and that the demand is growing.

Many of the movies produced in Nigeria are much like soap opera’s here in the United States. Viewers say that you get hooked on a good story and it keeps you coming back again and again. The special effects are cheesy and there are no top stars in the movies at all, but they seem to have a very big appeal to the viewers, and many fans just can’t get enough of them.

Nollywood movies don’t have the budget, big stars or technology, but they do have talented writers with intriguing stories to tell. The movies are shot with digital video instead of film so they look kind of like home movies. Starring in a one of these movies can launch a Nigerian actor into instant celebrity. Mr. Mohammed said that many times fans of the movies will invite their favorite actor or actress to New York on vacation and he will have the actors in his story signing video boxes for hundreds of adoring fans.

With the demand such as it is for these Nigerian movies, the Nollywood movie industry is sure to grow; and with continued growth, the quality of the films can only get better. With the success they are having already creating low-budget films, who knows what might happen when the Nigerian movie industry finally gets the resources to create a big-budget feature film?

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