Monday, April 8, 2019

Why Nollywood Filmmakers Have Failed To Qualify for the Oscars and Cannes

The popularity of Nollywood as an African phenomenon in modern filmmaking has made headlines all over the world since the booming home videos film industry was called "Nollywood" in 2002 by the Canadian journalist, Norimitsu Onishi, the Chief of The New York Times' subSaharan Africa bureau, based in Johannesburg.
Nollywood has been ranked as the second largest film industry behind Bollywood of India and ahead of Hollywood of America. But Nollywood movies have failed to qualify for the biggest competitions of accolades in the global film industry. The majority of Nigerian filmmakers in Nollywood and Kannywood are still not well informed on how to qualify for the official selections of the annual Cannes Film Festival and nominations for the annual Oscars. They don't even have the mindset of the international filmmakers who compete for the best awards in the world.

The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), guilds, accredited film schools and film festivals should have forums and workshops on the films that qualified for the Oscars, Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto for Nigerian filmmakers to have interactive brainstorming sessions on the productions. And if possible, invite the award winning directors to discuss how they made their films. Telling local filmmakers who failed to qualify for the Oscars, Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto to teach their fellow local filmmakers is good, but it is not the best, because these so called Nollywood veterans or whatever they call themselves cannot teach more than they know or beyond the scope of their knowledge. Their so called master classes in filmmaking are of second class standard like the one I participated in years ago for documentary filmmaking hosted by the Public Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. I did not see anything in the workshop that qualified it as a masterclass workshop for documentary filmmakers even though the teacher was an American documentary filmmaker. So, at the end of the workshop, I did not want to collect the certificate given to each of the Nigerian participants who excitedly rushed to collect the certificates like they were collecting American visa. They cajoled me to collect it and I politely accepted it. But I cannot remember where I have kept it and I have not bothered to look for it. To me, it was deceitful to collect a certificate for what you were not taught. 80 percent of those who collected the certificate till date don't know what is cinéma vérité the teacher mentioned during the masterclass, but never illustrated it and never showed us any example. In fact one of the participants till date does not know what is a shooting ratio or even a medium shot.

We now have mushroom film schools in Nigeria, because of the popularity of Nollywood and Kannywood run by those who did not even attend accredited film schools. And giving their ignorant students what we call "Garbage In, Garbage Out" (GIGO) tutorials on filmmaking without any certified curriculum.

We must stop fooling ourselves in Nollywood and Kannywood if we want to upgrade to the world class standard of the global film industry so that we can qualify to compete with the best at the Oscars, Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto. Because only the best is good enough for Nigeria.

We want international film distribution and syndication of Nollywood teleplays series, and movies, but  the producers don't know the different techniques for the TV and the cinema. In fact, some of these producers don't know the difference between sound editing and sound mixing. But we rush to international film festivals and film markets to show our amateurish TV productions without screening them for experts to select the best from Nigeria to show the world. The funny thing is that those who have never worked on TV productions before and cannot tell what is good sound quality are pretending to know what is a well produced TV drama and comedy.
That is why they go and return empty handed without selling any of their TV productions in the competitions with the best from other countries.
Is it not embarrassing that what is promoted as a multiple awards winning Nollywood movie, among the top highest grossing box office hits ends up rated in the TV category of international film festivals and film markets?
More than 90 percent of the Nollywood movies showing at the cinemas are best for TV. That is why the famous Newton Aduaka, the only Nigerian filmmaker who has qualified for the official selection at the Cannes said, "Nollywood is TV." But I believe we can still make movies for the cinema and compete for the most coveted awards among the best filmmakers in the world by doing our best professionally and focusing on the Big Picture of the future in the global film industry.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, the Publisher/Editor, NOLLYWOOD MIRROR®Series.
Michael Chima Ekenyerengozi | IndieWire

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