Nollywood cinema will not be denied, as it continues to expand its reach and awareness in the international marketplace, filling every existing nook and cranny. There's an audience for Nollywood cinema (or, at least a curiosity, in light of all the recent attention the Nigerian film industry has been getting), all over the world, it seems.
All-the-better I say, especially as the industry seems to be at somewhat of an identity crossroads, or maybe developing more of split in personality, under all this unprecedented scrutiny, as some Nollywood filmmakers push for a more internationally-competitive brand of Nollywood cinema, while others are content with the status quo.
In recent years, Nollywood-specific film festivals have been launched in different parts of the world, most recently, in Brazil, and you'll find existing festivals adding Nollywood sidebars to their lineups.
While we wait for a Nollywood delegation to invade the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, I think this might be the first Nollywood-specific film festival in the country - at least, in its capital, Paris.
It launches on May 30, and will run through June 2, with a lineup that includes some of the most-talked about Nollywood films of the last 12 months, like: Phone Swap by Kunle Afolayan; Maami by Tunde Kelani (although I'm not sure he considers himself a Nollywood filmmaker); Ijé by Chineze Anyaene; and Last Flight to Abuja by Obi Emelonye.
Details on the first annual NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival via press release below:
The Birthplace of Cinema Welcomes Nollywood from May 30 to June 2
Paris, France - The French are laying out the red carpet for Nigerian filmmakers in effort to build a lasting bridge between Francophone audiences and the Nigerian film industry powerhouse.
For the first annual NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival, set to take place in the heart of Paris at the l’Arlequin Theatre from May 30 to June 2, the event’s French producers have high aspirations for the project, saying, “Bringing the second largest film industry to the country that invented cinema will give these directors inspiration to achieve greatness and will open up France to an entirely new market and style of filmmaking.”
Indeed, the Nigerian film industry rivals only India’s Bollywood in terms of annual film/video production, producing roughly 1,000 films/videos each year. Many of those 1000 films are shot on a shoe-string budget and completely ‘in the can’ within one week! Compare that to productions elsewhere that can last for months.
Complete with its own A-list movie stars and movie award ceremonies, Nollywood filmmakers have also begun to catch the attention of Hollywood in recent years. Still, Nollywood remains largely unknown in many circles due to the challenges that the young 21-year old industry face.
YK Projects, the French non-profit association responsible for NollywoodWeek Paris, hopes to address those issues as well as how to create synergies between France and Nigeria. In addition to seven of Nollywood’s best recent films selected to screen at the festival, organizers have also planned panel discussions, special events, and a marketplace for producers and buyers to exchange.
Media organizations and government institutions such as the French Consulate of Lagos, the Nigerian Embassy in Paris, Courrier International, the Mairie of Paris, Bella Naija, and Black Entertainment Movies are but a few organizations that have already partnered with YK Projects to bring the film festival to fruition.
The explosive growth of Nollywood within the last decade has been massive, and it is only beginning.
NollywoodWeek Paris wants the 62 million inhabitants of France to also share in this thriving film movement. Keeping with the Nollywood grassroots movement, a crowd-funding campaign was launched to encourage the global community to participate in bringing this festival to light: http://igg.me/at/nwp
YK Projects is a French non-profit association focused on creating artistic projects with a purpose. The organization strongly believes in the importance of creating a new access to the arts for local audiences.