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Socio-cultural, political developments of Nigerian film industry

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Socio-cultural, political developments of Nigerian film industry

Barclays Ayakoroma’s “Trends in Nollywood: A Study of Selected Genres” has provided respite to researchers on Nigerian cinema, film history, theory, criticism and the culture of film scholarship in Nigeria.
The 365-page book achieves this by virtually dwelling on diverse aspects of theoretical tradition, taxonomy and critical establishment of film, with focus Nigerian film industry, Nollywood. In his Forward to the book Femi Shaka, a Professor of film studies in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, validates this point when he writes that: “the fascinating aspect of the work exploits the theories of film genres as a framework for the analysis of the genres in the Nigerian film industry. Film scholarship, like the older art disciplines like literary studies, mass communication, theatre arts, fine arts, genre studies, and so on, is replete with critical models for textual analysis. They range from genre criticism, to auteurism, to psychoanalytic criticism, to postcolonial discourse and criticism, feminist criticism, structuralism, post- structuralism, deconstruction, modernism, post-modernism and so on” (p.12).
He further observed that this book with five parts is out to help other books like Jonathan Haynes’ anthology, “Nigerian Video Films”, Mathias Krings and Onookome Okome’s anthology, “Global Nollywood: Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry”, Abdallah Uba Adamu’s “Passage from India-Transnational Media Flows and African Cinema: The Video Film in Northern Nigeria” and Innocent Ebere Uwah’s “The Rhetoric of Culture in Nollywood” to define film studies and its industry whose UNESCO rating is the third largest film culture in the world. To justify this, the author in his introduction, traces how the introduction of television in Nigeria in 1959 offered Nigerians the opportunity to share in various televised experiences. He mentioned drama on television, which was an era of soap opera, as an example of such experience.
Part one of the book captures the background of Nollywood as a contemporary Nigerian film industry by first examining the historical milieu of film in Nigeria. Thomas Armat perfected projector in 1885 but it was 18 years after, which was in 1903, that Nigeria came in contact with film when Edwin Porter produced the first feature film, “The Great Train Robbery”. The Church and colonial government took interest in film as a medium of communication; hence they used it to achieve their goals. Afterwards, towards 1945, Nigerians like Hubert Ogunde produce indigenous films. Cinema was introduced thereafter and government showed interest in the production of documentary genres. This part noted 1970 to 1985 as the glorious years of cinema in Nigeria and this was when the cinema convention thrived in Nigeria. This era produced filmmakers such as Francis Oladele, Wole Soyinka, Sanya Dosunmu, Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah, Jab Adu, Hubert Ogunde, Jimi Odumosu, Ladi Ladebo, Adeyemi Folayan, Moses Olaiya, Sule Umar, Afolabi Adeasanya, Sadiq Balewa, USA Galadima, Brendan Shehu and Lola Fani-Kayode. Cinema industry did not last for a long time and only a few films were made.
This part further dwells on the birth of television in Nigeria, discussing it from the point of view of when local television came on board, the soap opera as a precursor of video films, “Mirror in the Sun” as pacesetter and what happened after “Mirror in the Sun”. This was when the Nigerian Soap opera suffered hiccup as a result of foreign soap operas, sponsorship, and attitude of NTA Management, introduction of SAP and the rise of video films.
The experimentation of video format arose because of the collapse of the cinema industry. The Yoruba traveling theatre had the opportunity of recording their stage performances. Subsequently, some Igbo electronic dealers like Kenneth Nnebue started the production of films in Yoruba before he came out with “Living in Bondage”. This brought about exodus of stars from television medium to the emergent industry. Some of these Television-trained producer/directors are Chris Obi-Rapu, Chika Onu, Zeb Ejiro, Amaka Igwe, Ndubuisi Okoh, Andy Amenechi, Tade Ogidan, Fred Amata, Chico Ejiro, Tunji Bamisigbin, and Bolaji Dawodu. Other issues extensively discussed in this part include, the context of production in Nollywood, the issue of censorship in Nollywood, the marketing approach in Nollywood and piracy in Nollywood.
Part two focuses on studies in genres in Nollywood. In order to realize its aim of how genre has been applied in Nigeria film industry. The genres in Nollywood are described as integral aspect of film movement in a given industry. The author analyzes the generic developmental trends in Nollywood, the parts or sequel syndrome, simultaneity or back-to-back productions, evolution of an iconography, scriptwriters and plagiarism, stereotyping and type casting, women as sex symbols, guild system, remuneration of artistes, rise of artistes, rise of film directors, censorship, national and international market, alternative film market, piracy in the industry, lack of institutional support, revenue generation for broadcast and advertising industries, co-productions, film awards among others, are the issues thoroughly explained.

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