Lost in Nollywood

text and video by Michele Manfellotto

Dutch multimedia artist duo Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen made a trip to Lagos to shoot a video on the Nigerian movie industry, the so-called Nollywood, which appears to be second only to Hollywood and Bollywood.

Last week I was in Amsterdam so I got the chance to join Sander and Witte’s “Lost in Nollywood” night hosted by Lost & Found at the SMART Project Space, featuring trailers and clips from popular Nigerian films.

In the curators’ words: “The Nigerian film industry is the third largest in the world, releasing onto the home video market approximately 1,000 movies each year. Movies are produced and marketed in the space of a week: low cost equipment, actors cast the day of the shooting, ?real life? locations. They continue to fascinate audiences; stars are local actors, plots confront the viewer with familiar situations of romance, comedy, witchcraft, bribery, prostitution. The narrative is overdramatic, deprived of happy endings, tragic. The aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted”.

To get what they are talking about just watch this clip that was screened in the show, a trailer for the movie called “Hitler”:

Apart from the obvious weirdness of the whole thing and the psychedelic taste of some ultra lo-fi film tricks that these movies sport all the time, I was most impressed because what we have here is an unstoppable and definitely original folk experience.

The video above is my private memory of that night, one long take in which a filmmaker and his first actress talk of their lives in cinema.