BY OLU-YOMI OSOSANYA
2016 has been an interesting year in Nollywood. It’s been a bit like dancing the cha cha, a few steps forward and a few steps back, from premieres at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and major collaborations, to the deep-seated issues and contempt revealed by MOPICON, it’s been an interesting dance.
— 8 Nollywood films screened at TIFF as part of the City to City programme, where the filmmakers got an opportunity to talk about their films on that grand platform and meet with other global filmmakers. As TIFF is amongst the top 5 film festivals in the world, this was a privilege many filmmakers strive to attain.
— The long-in-gestation feature ’76 whose teaser was initially released in 2011, had its North American premiere at TIFF and dropped in Nigerian Cinemas in November. The story, with the assassination of a Head of State as its backdrop, is the first Nollywood film to receive the full collaboration of the Nigerian Military who hosted and trained the cast. As Nigeria has a long history of the military playing a role in the path the nation has taken, this is a significant step.
— The drama-thriller feature 93 Days portrayed the heroic efforts of the Doctors and the Lagos State Government during the Ebola crisis, and is effectively one of the first biopics in modern Nollywood.
— The CEO is one of the first Nollywood films with a Pan African cast, locations across continents with a transatlantic premiere.
— The Wedding Party” is the 1st large scale collaboration of studios in Nollywood; EbonyLife, Film One Inkblot and Koga studios all collaborated on the film under the company name ELFIKE. These are the mini majors of Nollywood. For Americans, think of it like having Lions Gate, Open Road Films, The Weinstein Company and Harpo coming together for one project.
— Netflix made its official entry into Nigeria, and now producers have another platform where they can release their films and find audiences locally and internationally; this is particularly good for films that can’t distribution due to a lack of star power, or popularity. It’s also an opportunity to tap into a global audience who may have had difficulty accessing Nigerian films they hear about and want to see.
— It’s been a year of many “firsts” and setting of precedents in Nollywood, which are all a good thing for the evolution of the industry; specifically production value and budgets have shown some remarkable growth.
In summary, advancements in scale, collaboration and global positioning combine to suggest 2016 was a relatively good year for Nollywood.