Nigeria’s film industry grows up.
It all started in 1992, when an electronics dealer in Lagos, Nigeria, named Kenneth Nnebue needed to unload a shipment of blank VHS cassettes. He figured the tapes would be easier to sell if they had something on them, so he made Living in Bondage, a film about a down-and-out businessman who used witchcraft to get ahead. It had rock-bottom production values, but it told a story about magic, money, and the dark forces at work in the world—things Nigerians knew from their own lives but had never seen onscreen. Living in Bondage was a massive success.
Soon, other films with similar themes followed, and a homegrown industry emerged: low-budget films made by Nigerians for Nigerians. Nollywood, as the genre was named, quickly became the second-most prolific film market in the world, behind only India in terms of the number of movies produced, according to a UNESCO report.
A couple of years ago, though, something changed. Africans grew tired of the now predictable stories. DVD sales dropped and funding dried up. The industry was ripe for change.
Whereas the old Nollywood was fast and cheap, Afolayan’s new Nollywood is slow and crafted. The old Nollywood was about quantity; the new Nollywood is about quality. If the old Nollywood represented formulaic stories that baffled outsiders and started to bore Nigerians, the new Nollywood is looking like something else entirely.