Thursday, December 5, 2013

100 Stars of Nollywood and Kannywood

On Friday November 27, 2013, the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) in Nigeira celebrated their Nollywood @20 Grand Awards and honoured dozens of both notable and not so notable actors, actresses, producers, directors, screenwriters, sound engineers, make up artists, costumiers, entertainment reporters, marketers and distributors and others with awards in different categories. But there were some inexcusable omissions on their list of those who have achieved and contributed to what Nollywood has become today as Africa's biggest and largest home entertainment film industry of home videos and TV dramas. There was no call for nominations before they made their selections and till date there is still no list of the nominees and winners on their Nollywood @20 website, except a carousel of selected Nollywood stars, movie posters and news on how they came up with the idea of Nollywood @20 that would have been held last year 2012 when Nollywood actually became twenty years since the release of the best selling Igbo language home video "Living in Bondage" in 1992. But before "Living in Bondage", several best selling home videos were released in Yoruba and Hausa languages. The controversy on the true history of Nollywood is not the mission of our resolution to celebrate the shining stars of both Nollywood and Kannywood, because they are the ones who have attracted millions of movie lovers to watch thousands of their movies in videos and on TV and have become household names not only in Nigeria, but in other countries of Africa and the rest of the world. Millions of viewers have become passionate fans of these celebrated actors and actresses in Nollywood and Kannywood and they can nominate and vote for those who should make our final list of 100 Stars of Nollywood and Kannywood to be released in 2014 to celebrate the Nigeria Centenary.
Toyin Adegbola.
Genevieve Nnaji and Sola Sobowale.
Pete Edochie and Ibinabo Fiberesima.
Ngozi Ezeonu.
Olu and Joke Jacobs.

So much has been written and published on Nollywood, our Nollywood, the phenomenal Nigerian film industry producing thousands of home videos telling stories of Nigerians from the past to the present and has caught the attention of the rest of the world to say WOW! African magic? Did you know that Ivorian rebels in the bush stopped fighting when a shipment of Nollywood DVDs arrived from Lagos? Did you know that Zambian mothers said that their children now talk with accents copied from Nollywood movies? Did you know that when the President of Sierra Leone asked Genevieve Nnaji to join him on the campaign trail he attracted record crowds at rallies, because of her? Yes, Nollywood is our African magic that has hooked the world.
~ From Nollywood Mirror Series.

  Mofe-Damijo, Richard

Saheed Balogun and Kate Henshaw.
Adebayo Salami.
Taiwo Hassan.

Van Vicker.
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde.

Nollywood, Nigeria's booming film industry, is the world's third largest producer of feature films. Unlike Hollywood and Bollywood, however, Nollywood movies are made on shoe-string budgets of time and money. An average production takes just 10 days and costs approximately $15,000.
Yet in just 13 years, Nollywood has grown from nothing into a $250 million dollar-a-year industry that employs thousands of people. The Nollywood phenomenon was made possible by two main ingredients: Nigerian entrepreneurship and digital technology.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, Lagos and other African cities faced growing epidemics of crime and insecurity. Movie theaters closed as people became reluctant to be out on the streets after dark. Videos for home viewing imported from the West and India were only mildly popular. Nigerians saw an opportunity to fill the void with products of their own.

Jim Iyke.
Mike Ezuruonye.
Emeka Enyiocha.
Desmond Elliot.

Experts credit the birth of Nollywood to a businessman who needed to unload thousands of blank tapes and to the 1992 video release of Living in Bondage, a movie with a tale of the occult that was an instant and huge-selling success. It wasn't long before other would-be producers jumped on the bandwagon.
Currently, some 300 producers churn out movies at an astonishing rate—somewhere between 500 and 1,000 a year. Nigerian directors adopt new technologies as soon as they become affordable. Bulky videotape cameras gave way to their digital descendents, which are now being replaced by HD cameras. Editing, music, and other post-production work is done with common computer-based systems. The films go straight to DVD and VCD disks.

Thirty new titles are delivered to Nigerian shops and market stalls every week, where an average film sells 50,000 copies. A hit may sell several hundred thousand. Disks sell for two dollars each, making them affordable for most Nigerians and providing astounding returns for the producers.

Nadia Buari.

Not much else about Nollywood would make Hollywood envious. Shooting is inevitably delayed by obstacles unimaginable in California. Lagos, home to 15 million people (expected to be 24 million by 2010), is a nightmare of snarled traffic, pollution, decaying infrastructure, and frequent power outages.
Star actors, often working on several films at once, frequently don't show up when they're supposed to. Location shooting is often delayed by local thugs, or "touts", who extort money for protection before they will allow filming to take place in their territories.

Yet Nollywood producers are undeterred. They know they have struck a lucrative and long-neglected market - movies that offer audiences characters they can identify with in stories that relate to their everyday lives. Western action-adventures and Bollywood musicals provide little that is relevant to life in African slums and remote villages.

Nollywood stars are native Nigerians. Nollywood settings are familiar. Nollywood plots depict situations that people understand and confront daily; romance, comedy, the occult, crooked cops, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS.
"We are telling our own stories in our own way," director Bond Emeruwa says. "That is the appeal both for the filmmakers and for the audience."
The appeal stretches far beyond Nigeria. Nollywood films are proving popular all over English-speaking Africa and have become a staple on M-NET, the South African based satellite television network. Nigerian stars have become household names from Ghana to Zambia and beyond. The last few years have seen the growing popularity of Nollywood films among African diaspora in both Europe and America.
"Look out, Hollywood," one exuberant Nigerian producer exclaims. "Here we come!"

~ By Franco Sacchi, Robert Caputo and Aimee Corrigan from This Is Nollywood

Sani Danja.
Majid Michel.
Hadiza Gabon.
Rihama Hassan.

The name Kannywood for the Hausa film industry was first coined in 1999 by publisher Sanusi Shehu Danaji three years before the New York Times used the term “Nollywood” to refer to the Nigerian film industry

The following report mirrors the popularity of Bollywood movies and how they have boosted the emergence of Kannywood.
For over forty years, African audiences have been watching Indian movies. In places such as northern Nigeria, generations of Hausa youth have grown up besotted with Bollywood ("Bombay/Hollywood") film culture. Over time, Indian movies have altered the style of Hausa fashions, their songs have been copied by Hausa singers and their stories have influenced the writings of Nigerian novelists. Favorite stars are given Hausa nicknames, like Sarkin Karfi (King of Strength) for Dharmendra, Dan Daba Mai Lasin (Hooligan With a License) for Sanjay Dutt, or Mace (Woman) for Rishi Kapoor. To this date, stickers of Indian films and stars decorate the taxis and buses of northern Nigeria, while posters of Indian films adorn the walls of tailor shops and mechanics' garages.

Nafisa Abdullahi.

Lebanese distributors began importing Indian movies in the 1950s, though; Hausa viewers have recognized the strong visual, social and even political similarities between the two cultures. By the early 1960s, when television was first introduced, Hausa fans were already demanding (over British objections) that Indian movies be shown on TV. Hausa fans of Indian movies argue that Indian culture is "just like" Hausa culture. Instead of focusing on the differences between the two societies, when they watch Indian movies what they see are similarities, especially when compared with American or English movies. Men in Indian films, for instance, are often dressed in long kaftans, similar to the Hausa “dogon riga”, over which they wear long waistcoats, much like the Hausa “palmaran”. The wearing of turbans; the presence of animals in markets; porters carrying large bundles on their heads, chewing sugar cane; youths riding Bajaj motor scooters; wedding celebrations and so on: in these and a thousand other ways the visual subjects of Indian movies reflect back to Hausa viewers aspects of everyday life.
In a strict Muslim culture that still practices a form of purdah, Indian movies are praised because (until recently) they showed "respect" toward women. The problem with Hollywood movies, many of my friends complained, is that they have "no shame." 
In Indian movies, they said, women are modestly dressed, men and women rarely kiss, and you never see women naked. Because of this, Indian movies are said to "have culture" in a way that Hollywood films seem to lack. The fact is that Indian films fit in with Hausa society. This is realized by Lebanese film distributors, and Indian video importers as well as Hausa fans. Major themes of Hindi films, such as the tension between arranged and love marriages, do not appear in Hollywood movies but are agonizing problems for Nigerian and Indian youth.

After Maine Pyar Kiya was released one friend told me it was his favorite movie: "I liked the film" he said, "because it taught me about the world." When the star Salman Khan had to choose between an arranged marriage with someone he didn't love and running away from his family to follow the woman of his heart my friend said, "I shed tears, tears. Even though I know the film is fiction I still shed tears, because it was about what is happening in the world." Hollywood films, he said contemptuously, have no shame or they are just action, "they don't base themselves on the problems of the people."
The themes of Indian movies are often based on the reality of a developing country emerging from years of colonialism. The style of the movies and plots deal with the problem of how to modernize while preserving traditional values - not usually a narrative theme in a Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Spielberg movie. Characters choose between wearing Indian or Western-style clothes; following religious or secular values; living with the masses or in rich, western style bungalows. Women often decide whether they should speak shyly to their lover or stand up, look him in the face and declare their love forcefully. Male stars are often presented with the choice between a "traditional" lover, who respects family and dresses modestly, and a modern woman who lives a rich, fast, life hanging around discos and hotels. The use of English by arrogant upper-class characters or by imperious bureaucrats; and even the endemic corruption of police and state officials, all present familiar situations for post-colonial Indian and African viewers.

 Indian movies have been an accepted, admired part of Hausa popular culture compared favorably with the negative effects of Western media. Indian movies offered an alternative style of fashion and romance that Hausa youth could follow without the ideological baggage of "becoming western". But as the style of Bollywood has begun to change over the last few years, this acceptance is becoming more questioned. Contemporary films are more sexually explicit and violent. Nigerian viewers comment on this when they compare older Indian films of the 1950s and 1960s that "had" culture to newer ones which are more westernized. One friend complained about this saying that "when I was young, the Indian films we used to see were based on their tradition. But now Indian films are just like American films. They go to discos, make gangs, they'll do anything in a hotel and they play rough in romantic scenes where before you could never see things like that."

The irony is that this shift in the style of Indian films also mirrors the transformations in contemporary Nigerian society. Post-oil boom Nigeria has exacerbated a sense that traditional Hausa values are eroding, that women are becoming sexually freer, that men are more likely to rebel against their parents' authority. Hausa fans have seen these changes in Indian films. While they preserve the sense that Indian culture is "just like" Hausa culture, there is a mounting argument that current Indian movies are spoiling the values of Hausa youth. This argument hasn't affected the massive popularity of Bollywood, but it is a new, conservative critique whose impact remains to be seen.

The international success of Indian film subverts the constant mantra of the cultural dictatorship of Hollywood movies. While the success of Bollywood doesn't alter the fact of America's media supremacy, it does focus attention to the many parts of the world where Bollywood reigns supreme. When I left the Marhaba cinema after seeing Mother India, I bumped into a friend who asked me where I'd been. I told him and asked him if he knew when the movie was made. "No," he said, "I couldn't tell you. But as soon as I knew film, I knew Mother India." From Nigeria to Egypt to Senegal to Russia, generations of non-Indian fans who have grown up with Bollywood, bear witness to the cross-cultural appeal of Indian movies.

~ FromKannywood, the growth of a Nigerian language industry – Carmen McCain, and "Bollywood in Africa — Is it getting too Western?"


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