The evolution of Nigeria’s film industry has faced numerous stages from plays to video before finally reaching its present state, into what we know as “New Nollywood”.This incredible boom in the industry has been attributed to better production quality, theatrical releases, and streaming platforms.
This impact goes beyond the Nigerian screen as its influence has created a massive cult following in the Y2k trend and an increased eager participation into Nigerian culture.
@temi.awani So much fun! 🤎 #y2knollywood #nollybabes #WorkThisWay #temiawani #fypシ ♬ original sound – Chi
The Y2k style trend is a cultural rebirth of fashion staples from 2000’s Nigerian movies. Today, it’s not farfetched to walk into a Y2k themed party in Nigeria or in the diaspora, with increased participation from younger people (late millennials and Gen Z). A very present offshoot of this would be the “Costa Rica” videos and voiceovers trending on TikTok.
@sheluvsekemini I’ve retired from the costa rica videos😔 #Sheluvsekemini #fyp #viral #fypnigeria #nigeriantiktok ♬ original sound – Meme God👑
@ezinnemua NollyWay💚🤍💚 @originalnaijababe #y2kaesthetic #nollywood#fyp#foryou#y2knollywood #nollywoodparty ♬ Gongo Aso – 9ice
A Brief History of Nollywood
The Colonial Era
Films were introduced to Nigeria in the 19th century through motion picture devices. Advertisement during this era involved the use of mobile vans playing to millions of people within the country. The amazing impact of technology helped transition this medium to screens for upcoming films. Most notable work during this period was in 1926 in a movie called “Palaver” directed by George Barkas.
The Golden Age Era
The golden age period served as the landmark towards Nigerian filmmaking in the 1960s and 1970s. This happened during the period in which Nigeria gained its independence as it allowed for the growth of cinemas with more creative direction being provided to Nigerians. The expansion of theater production was mostly seen from the Western region with works from Hubert Ogunde and Moses Olaiya.
In the 1980s, purchasing power amongst Nigerians grew expeditiously due to the oil boom industry as visitation to cinemas increased and the birth of television sets occurred. This led to the creation of sitcoms and shows for the typical Nigerian home. Shows such as “Papa Ajasco” by Wale Adenuga and “Mosebolatan” by Moses Olaiya were successful during the prime of this era. Due to this, another era was blooming as the development of a small video-scale trade began with many productions venturing into this.
The Video Film Era
The emergence of home videos came about due to television productions following the decline of the Golden Age era. The remodeling of the Nigerian film industry led to the adoption of this trade as the cinema culture lost its lucrativeness. Prosperity of this era was believed to have been marked by Kenneth Nnebue’s film titled “Living in bondage” who utilized this. The outcome of this made Nigeria one of the largest producers of films around the world.
Despite this success, the commercial nature was not seen as movies were cheaply made. Although this period was at its peak, many issues were rampant in this industry causing its downfall. Several factors affecting this were piracy, lack of financial and marketing support, poor standardization of film distribution and studios and most importantly, visionless movie direction.
New Nollywood Cinema
The Nigerian film industry is in a rebrand phase, as seen in film production, rebirth of cinemas and overall delivery of movies. The growth of cinemas was originally constructed towards a specific class of audience which was the middle and upper class. The Silverbird group was noted as the first envisioning of cinema housing geared towards modern Nigerian filmmaking.
Change made viewers see these places beyond its original purpose as it served a new meaning for entertainment. The revamping of these cinemas took into consideration location and other areas of improving social activities. The success of this led to the eruption of more cinema houses even going across places of affluence.
One can say the Nigerian filmmaking is really making headlines as the growth of cinemas is spread across and grants are being provided to filmmaking directors. The aim is to produce high quality film productions while also encouraging directors to take on proper training in film schools. This has allowed for dramatic changes in the Nigerian film scene with better storytelling and more convincing performances from actors as compared to their melodrama acting.
Notable movies in this era are “Irapada” by Kunle Afolayan, “The Figurine” by Kunle Afolayan, “Ijé: The Journey” by Chineze Anyaene and “The Wedding Party” by Kemi Adetiba. However, it is quite arguable that themes and storytelling cannot be compared to its former predecessors- or could this be a feeling of nostalgia? This is a debate which would depend on the different generations of audience.
New Nollywood: The Impact of Streaming Platforms
Another exciting element which came with this new period are streaming platforms, it is amazing the impact of technology on the Nigerian film industry. Although the comeback of cinemas has brought about social interaction, the timeline for movies can be missed due to their limited stay in cinemas and just generally missing out on this opportunity. In 2020, the streaming giant, Netflix officially launched for both Nigeria and South Africa providing contents designed for Africans. This can be described as Africans doing their own storytelling. The first to lead this form was the debut of “Lionheart” which saw the first directional work of Genevieve Nnaji. Following suite are more success stories such as the seven part series of Kemi Adetiba”s “King of Boys”.
Other streaming platforms such as Irokotv, Amazon prime and many others are using this path and it is quite impressive to see that African contents are now more accessible. Nollywood movies have gone beyond the continent of Africa generating more exposure for it.
Creating a Wave for New Audiences
Looking back to the Nigerian film industry, there really has been an evolution. From the comeback of cinema culture to the advancement of technology evident in streaming platforms. The reminiscence of Old Nollywood still stands as this is showcased in fashion such as “Y2k trend” and “meme culture” creating feelings of nostalgia. The breakthrough of Nollywood throughout these periods indicates its resilience and as globalization continues to exist, Nigerian cinema will still prevail.