For the very first time, Paris and the Arlequin Theater are welcoming a festival dedicated to the Nigerian film production: The Nollywood Week. This event – that will take place between May 30th and June 2nd – will showcase the best of the second most important film industry in the world, right after the gigantic Bollywood, and before Hollywood.With more than 2000 films released annually Nollywood is the second job creating industry – after farming – in Nigeria.
Worth 5% of Nigeria’s GDP, this young industry, that began circa 1992, embodies the dynamism of the African continent and the cultural effervescence around the African contemporary scene, which is at the heart of AAD’s commitment and action. Stemming from Nigeria’s important narrative tradition, noticeable in the Onitscha novels popular literature, Nollywood movies are directly distributed to fans homes through VHS and DVDs, broadcasted in the whole sub-Saharan African continent, from West to South Africa. These movies form an African “cultural exception” within the story-telling genre, and, with the densification of its film fabric, and strong of its multiple successes, Nollywood is progressively reaching a level of maturity.
This first year’s competition will screen 7 productions that illustrate and celebrate the richness and diversity of Nigerian filmmaking. Starring Nigeria’s most successful actors and actresses, the festival will be the occasion to discover or rediscover the talented Genevieve Nnaji (‘Africa’s Julia Robert ‘according to CNN) in Ijé, or the stellar performance of Hakeem Kae-Kazim in Last flight to Abuja. Also part of the festival program Man on the ground is not to be missed: directed by acclaimed director Akin Omotoso, it was selected to premiere in the Toronto and Dubai Film Festivals in 2011, presented at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012 and won the best movie award in the Jozi film Festival.
A musical on an African fairy tale, Inalé is another must-see of the Nollywood Week. Directed by Jeta Amata, one of Nigeria’s most popular filmmakers, the film tells the story of King Oche’s (King of the Idioma people of Nigeria) beautiful daughter whose wedding with her beloved Odeh is jeopardized when a stranger shows up during the wrestling competition that was to finalize their union. In a very different style, Phone swap is a comedy that narrates the adventures of two women who, after they mistakenly swap their identical phone at the airport, end up swapping their respective fates.
Still relatively unknown to a French and European audience – despite the creation about a year ago of TV channel Nollywood TV in France –, the Nollywood Week introduces Nigerian cinema into the hexagon twenty-one year after its birth.