By Joshua Olomu,
Since the production of “Living In Bondage” close to three decades ago, a movie reputed to be what chronicled the emergence of Nollywood, the industry has progressively evolved into a global brand.
It has grown exponentially, amidst all odds, considering the little budgets movie producers have to work with, and the conservative methods of production and distribution that held the industry back for so many years.
Nollywood, which reports contributes about 1.3 percent to Nigeria’s GDP, has been growing steadily in the past two decades and it is acclaimed to be the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of volume.
From conventional movie production, Nollywood has, in recent years, advanced in filming, sound technology and storytelling that are in consonant with the digital age.
Its current era now produce experimental and innovative films with various genres, including epic, comedy, action and romantic drama which has become an intrinsic part of the global film sector.
However, in 2018, Nollywood reinforced its place on the global stage, with its artistes gaining global recognition, and more of its movies entering international markets and being accepted for screening at international film festivals.
Ace actress, Omotola-Jalade-Ekeinde was announced as an Academy and Voting member of the Oscars (only actor from Africa) ,and won Best Actress at the 2018 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).
She was also honoured as one of the 100 most influential people of African descent by the UN, and named among 50 women making impact in showbiz by Variety, a weekly American entertainment trade magazine.
Similarly, award –winning actress Nse Ikpe-Etim, and filmmaker Mahmood Ali-Balogun, were invited to serve as jurors for the 2018 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) in South Africa.
Ikpe-Etim, known for her role in “Devil in the Detail’, served as a juror in the fiction category, while Ali-Balogun, famous for directing ‘Tango With Me’, served in the documentary film category.
In 2018, screen ‘goddess’, Genevieve Nnaji signed a Representation Deal with US talent Agency (UTA) that will grant her more appearances in Hollywood films and TV series.
She also produced and made a directorial debut in the globally acclaimed blockbuster, “Lion Heart”, which was premiered at major international film festivals, including Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Marrakech International Festival.
“Lion Heart” has reportedly made Nnaji the first Nollywood billionaire, as Netflix, American subscription-based streaming service provider, reportedly bought the film for 3.8 million dollars.
Also, some blockbuster movies from the industry hit cinemas across Africa and beyond, including Kemi Adetiba’s ‘King of Boys’ and the ‘Power of One’ directed by Izu Ojukwu, listed among top 10 Nollywood films for 2018.
The list (ranked in no particular order) was released by African films scoring website, Filming AFRICA and shared on their IG page.
“We have always released our best films of the year, in no particular order, below is our list for 2018,’’ the post read.
The list included Nnaji’s ‘Lion Heart’, ‘God Calling’ directed by BB Sasore, ‘Black Rose’ by Okey Oku, ‘The Delivery Boy’ by Adewale Adejuyigbe and ‘Kasala’ by Ema Edosio.
Also, ‘Power of 1’ directed by Izu Ojukwu, ‘Sylvia’ directed by Daniel Oriahi, ‘Chief Daddy’ by Niyi Akinmolanyan and ‘Heaven on My Mind’ by Uche Jombo made the list.
Other iconic movie during the year included ‘Merry Men’, directed by Toka McBaror and produced by Ayo Makun aka AY, and ‘Chief Daddy’, directed by Niyi Akinmoloyan.
Stakeholders and industry watchers said that Nollywood successes were an indication that industry was growing and gaining global acceptance.
Mr Chike Nwoffiah, Executive Director, Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF) said: “At SVAFF in California, we exclusively focus on films made by African Filmmakers, and I can tell you that Nollywood films are loved and in great demand.
“Africa has stories that the rest of the world wants to hear, and Nollywood is telling the story very well”, he said.
Also, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Mahamat , recently commended the growing feat of Nollywood, adding that it was playing a leading role in the continent’s motion picture industry.
Mahamat, in an interactive session with the leadership of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) in Abuja, expressed willingness that the AUC was ready for partnership with Nollywood towards popularising AU programmes.
In his words: “The Nollywood brand is a tool that should be used to popularised African agenda because it is well known all over Africa and beyond.
“There is no doubt that the African youths can realize their potentials within the continent and make global impact because Nollywood has proved it.
“It is time for us to take advantage of what Nollywood has to offer Africa.”
Mr Emeka Rollas, National President of AGN noted that the industry directly and indirectly employs over two million young people in acting, production, digital marketing, distribution, cable stations and others.
He added that: “Together with the African Union, we can begin to transform Africa, realise its huge potential and make every African proud of this awesome continent.
“With such collaboration, AU and Nollywood, and indeed the entire Africa creative industry will open new frontiers in the economy of Africa in terms of job creation, youth engagement and empowerment, “he said.