By Emeka Chiakwelu
|Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji
When Hollywood announced its 2013 Oscar Award nominations in early January, it was said that many Nollywood stars braved the time difference and stayed wide awake to hear the nomination roll call.
When it came to nominations for Best Foreign Language Films, no single Nollywood or Nigerian movie was nominated. Some of the Nollywood stars were said to be little disappointed at Hollywood for not giving Nollywood its due respect or ‘props’ as she mightily deserved.
Nollywood should recognise that Oscar’s Academy Award is in the business of promoting Hollywood and swelling the bank accounts of its people. Nollywood has been phenomenal; within a span of 10 years it has replaced Hollywood as the second largest movie producer, while Bollywood of India continues to take the first place. Nollywood is gradually but steadily becoming a business competitor to Hollywood in Africa, if not beyond.
In profitability and superb organisational structure, Hollywood runs supreme. As noted by Slate: In 2004, the six major studios – Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony, and their subsidiaries had total revenues of $7.4 billion from world box-office sales; $20.9 billion from world video sales; and $17.7 billion from world television licensing. Hollywood is very profitable and entertaiment industry gives the United States its second largest foreign revenue. And Hollywod cultural influence, as a leverage for soft power cannot be overemphasised.
In comparison, Nigeria’s Nollywood is the third largest film industry worldwide right behind Hollywood in the US and India’s Bollywood. Its filmmakers have mastered the art of producing entertaining popular media with low production costs and high revenue gains. According to Black Enterprise, Nollywood produces more than 2000 moves each year and brings in $250 million in profit. as Charlotte Young wrote in Madamenoire.
Nollywood has the potential to be a global juggernaut akin to Hollywood but more work must done in establishing legal frameworks and entertainment infrastructure, including copyright laws, protection of intellectual property and adequate distribution centres.
First, it makes sense to explain how foreign movies are nominated for Oscar awards. The first thing to do is to submit a movie or movies for nominations. Secondly, lobby the Academy Board for selection and when nominated go further and intensify the lobbying to get the voters to support the movie. The last point may require hiring a Hollywood agent in order to make it possible.
Without any enquiry and probing, I have the hunch that energetic Nollywood film makers will definitely submit movies for consideration.
For now, that is good enough for Nollywood for only time will take care of its being part of the nominations and winners.
Nollywood films will never be selected or win the Oscars unless they have a Hollywood connection. By this I mean financial or monetary interest.
Nollywood has not even recognised how powerful she is becoming, for Nollywood poses a business threat to Hollywood especially in Africa countries and other developing nations. What Nollywood did in Africa and beyond was to displace Hollywood by telling the stories average Africans can identify with and not some Tinseltown stories that are quite far away from African experience and cultural make-up.
Nollywood has captured the spirit and soul of Africa on motion picture.
Nollywood is antithetical to Hollywood’s early movies that made mockery of Africa by distorting her humanity with comical and disparaging projections. The Nollywood experience is a resourceful mouthpiece for the old and new Africa – the good, bad, rich, poor, and of course the authentic Africa which is rooted in an African perspective. Nollywood stands for something beyond just making movies but a movement that illustrates, defines and captures Africa’s sense and sensibility without seeking for permission or apology unlike the African polity.
The introduction of the category for Best Foreign Language Film started in 1956. The much older and established Bollywood has been submitting their movies from 1957 to the present day. With all the movies submitted, Bollywood has only been nominated for three movies and none has ever won.
Nollywood has every attribute just like Hollywood to give it international acceptance. Nollywood has the glitz, gossip, brains and beauty; and Nollywood stars are gaining name recognition in the world.
Works from Nollywood and faces like Genevieve Nnaji and Nkem Owoh are gaining growing acceptance in the film world. In the nearest future, many Nollywood stars will be invited to become part of Hollywood because of the enormous talents in the industry.
Moreover, there is money to be made in Nollywood. It is already happening in the music industry, where you have many American musicians collaborating with P Square and DBanj.
With Africa’s exploding population and purchasing power, time is on the side of Nollywood. The time is not distant away when Hollywood will beckon Nollywood for collaboration and partnership. Nollywood must be persistent and must not relent in her quest to entertain the world.
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