|Index||3 reviews in total|
Samir Mallal and Ben Addelman's feature-length doc about Nigeria's
hugely successful film industry bursts with color, light, and sound.
Vibrantly shot and sharply edited, the film is a whirlwind tour of
Nollywood, offering multiple insights into the world's third largest
Mallal and Addelman take viewers deep inside sprawling Lagos, capturing the throbbing rhythms of its streets, its wild contradictions, and how they feed into Nigeria's speedy, soulful, fabulously lurid film-making. The people in the doc, particularly unbelievably prolific director Lancelot Imasuen, are as compellingly dramatic and funny as the characters in ultra low budget Nollywood classics like Private Sin and Highway to the Grave.
Nollywood Babylon (2008)
*** (out of 4)
Entertaining documentary taking a look at the Nigerian film industry, which is actually the third largest in the world only trailing the United States and India. The documentary starts off by telling us that there are nearly 2500 films produced there each year with the majority of them costing less than $15,000. From this point on we learn about the history of films in Nigeria, the lack of places to show them, how religion and politics play a huge part in the films that are made and we even get to meet filmmaker Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen as he starts filming BENT ARROWS. Overall I was happy with this film although there's no question that it's a tad bit uneven at times as it jumps around in the story it's trying to tell. There are many subplots discussed here and the majority of them are quite interesting including the death of movie houses and why there's only three theaters and none of them play movies from Nigeria. This leads to another interesting topic and it's how the poor are really the ones buying up these movies and we get to hear from some fans who say they watch three or five a night. It's also interesting seeing the filmmaker go about shooting his picture on which is obviously a very low budget to say the least. Seeing how the films are shot was very entertaining and it certainly made you want to check out some of the films. At just 74-minutes the film starts to lose some steam as certainly subjects drag on a bit. Still, those interested in cinema from around the world should enjoy this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This poignant documentary introduced me to Nollywood and left me very
eager to see some products of the world's third-largest film industry.
I really enjoyed following the spirited, self-taught director Lancelot ("The Gov'nor") as he shepherded "Bent Arrows" from auditions, camera-blessings, and endless retakes to post-wrap pool party. It was fascinating to watch this born leader coax moving performances from his motley cast and crew. ("Please feel married!" he urges an actor couple in a wedding scene.)
The only thing that was missing in this portrait was some information about this man's private life. With 157 movies under his belt, is he now living in luxury or still eking out a living? Surrounded by ingénues, is he a playboy, married with kids, or both? Unfortunately, we're left clueless.
Along the way we do gain intriguing insights into Nigeria, which we are told is plagued by so much street crime that few people venture to movie houses. Rather, the masses watch these often-manic-seeming films at home, sometimes to the tune of several a day. These movies are described as being both companion and support to a people making the transition from tradition to modernity amid poverty, joblessness, and corruption.
As one of the commentators notes, Nollywood films are intentionally different from what we're accustomed to in the West. They fall into an ancient, highly emotional oral-storytelling tradition. Movie makers make no bones about their motives -- "making money and making statements" -- and, refreshingly, eschew Hollywood conventions. We see many large and older women in important roles. Few of the thespians of either sex are exceptionally attractive by Western standards. I say good!
So, now that I have learned about Nollywood, where can I go to see "Desperate Billionaire"?
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