The Nigerian film industry is the second most prolific film industry in the world, and their faith-based films, that they label as evangelical themed films, are not fringe like ours, they’re mainstream. Today, my guest is Nollywood scholar Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola, in the second episode of my multi-part series on Nigerian film industry phenomenon.
There is a lot we Christian filmmakers can learn from Nigerian filmmakers and their industry. They provide us with a model, that I believe, is better suited to our faith-based genre than is the Hollywood model. We will always have the Hollywood model, and there will always be Christian filmmakers who follow and produce films based on that model. But there is so much more Christian filmmakers can be doing, if we would just learn from other cinematic cultures and film industries. Throughout cinema history, revolutionary filmmakers innovate their way out of the status quo, and shake up the stagnation of soul that sets in when filmmakers get complacent serving a creatively fearful industry.
That’s just one lesson we can learn from the Nigerians. And here’s something else.
Nigeria has a population of 214 million people. Half of them identify as Christian, and 80 million belong to the church. This Christian audience accounts for the dominance of Christian themed films in an industry that rivals the United States, where any film that smacks of Christian faith in any degree, is on the fringe.
The US has a population of 334 million. 75% are Christian, that’s a Christian audience of about 240 million. That’s more than double that of Nigeria. Our economic power and potential audience is much greater than Nigeria. And yet, our Christian film industry lags far behind their evangelical movement.
Our guest is Dr. Elizabeth Olayiwola, a Nollywood scholar and a film lecturer at Kwara State University in Nigeria. Her research focus is on evangelical Nigerian films, and that’s what she’s here to talk to us about.