Nollywood: A 100% Nigerian film phenomenon

Nollywood reflects the cultural dynamism of Nigeria: a country which in addition to its music and fashion, exports its cinema to Africa and the world.

With more than 2,000 feature films a year, Nigeria is the second largest film producer in the world behind Bollywood and ahead of the all-powerful Hollywood. Its industry, which was born without outside support in Lagos in the 1990s and is now called “Nollywood”, accounts for 2% of GDP together with the music industry and employs around one million people.

Popular and authentic, Nigerian cinema affirms its own vision of the world, where Africa is no longer perceived solely through the prism of Westerners.

Serge Noukoué, co-founder and executive director of Nollywood Week, the Nigerian film festival in France
R-T: Funke Akinde and Akin Lewis on set. Image from Ebony Life Tv

How is Nigerian cinema evolving?

For the past fifteen years, the number of cinemas in Nigeria has multiplied – less than 10 in 2004 compared to nearly 200 in 2018 – and local productions have made a phenomenal breakthrough in the last five years.

After years of what could be called amateurism, cinema has become more professional; technological means have made a leap forward and filmmakers are better trained. Directors are now looking to produce quality. They are aiming for theatrical releases and international recognition.

What are its specificities?

Popular and authentic, Nigerian cinema affirms its own vision of the world, where Africa is no longer perceived solely through the prism of Westerners. The themes addressed reflect the country’s political, economic and social realities while highlighting its human and cultural values.

Tope Oshin Ogun ( in red ) and Editi Effiong on set of “Up North”. Image from Anakle Films.

What is the idea behind the Nollywood Week festival?

This festival was created in 2013 in Paris, with the aim of introducing to the Parisian public the best Nigerian film productions every year.

This was a crazy bet, given the skepticism in France towards African cinema and the lack of knowledge of Nigerian cinema in particular. The success of this 7th edition proves that we were right to believe in it! Between December and February we call for candidates. The films are then screened with a group of directors, scriptwriters and members of the festival team. And during the festival, over four days, we screen films rigorously selected for their scriptwriters and technical qualities.

Pete Edochie on set of Things To Come, Wikipedia Ad. Image from Anakle Films.

How has the festival evolved?

Every year, we try to have a panel that represents the best of all genres (comedy, drama, thriller…), and this in a wide variety of formats (feature films, short films, TV series…). Over the years, we have managed to gain an increasingly wide coverage in the specialized press – which has enabled us to reach more and more people. At the end of each session, we have privileged moments of discussion between the public and filmmakers. Next year, we will launch training sessions on specific aspects of the profession (sound recording, work on light, animation…).

For the first time this year, Nollywood Week was held simultaneously in Paris and Marseille. Is this a proof that this cinema finds its audience in France?

While there is still a long way to go before Nigerian cinema fully finds its place in French cinemas, we are proud to have been able to organize the festival simultaneously in Paris and in Marseille. It is a real promise of hope for access to diversified cinema in our country.

Credit for this article

This article is an adapted from the Totals Africa’s magazine called Pathway(s).