What is this country that has this titan film industry? If you haven’t guessed, I’ll give you another clue. It’s a country in Africa. It’s industry goes by the moniker of Nollywood. It’s the country of Nigeria.
I am fascinated by the Nigerian film industry. While their films do get knocked for their lack of production value, they have something Hollywood doesn’t have. They make relatable films without Hollywood story models and connect to very large audiences. For those of us who have grown up with Hollywood, if we can overlook the clunky craftsmanship, their films can be very refreshing.
This is the first of a series of episodes that will focus on the Nigerian film industry.Now, you might be wondering why I think Christian filmmakers need to know about Nigerian cinema? For starters, we’re filmmakers. I love cinema. I love cinema history, I love film theory, and I love the cinema of other cultures. And when I find a cinematic culture that challenges the assumptions that are so deeply rooted in Hollywood’s creative totalitarian rule, it excites me.
And, there is something in Nigerian filmmaking culture that better aligns as a model for us who have chosen to be part of this oddity that we call faith-based filmmaking. The Christian film genre is a fringe genre. And I believe – and I could be totality out to lunch – that if Christian filmmakers spent less time trying to model ourselves after Hollywood, and more time modeling ourselves after Nollywood, we would see a faith film revolution. And right now, we are living in a very unique time in cinema history where this could work.
My guest today, shares my fascination with Nollywood. But he is much more invested. He went to Lagos, Nigeria and made a documentary about the Nigerian film industry. The name of the documentary is Welcome to Nollywood. The filmmaker is Jamie Meltzer, who also teaches documentary filmmaking at Stanford University.
Welcome to Nollywood
Jamie’s short films: