What is Welcome to Nollywood about?
The Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood, has exploded in the last ten years. Now the most popular cinema in all of west Africa--even more popular than imports of Hollywood or Bollywood films--the Nigerian film industry has distinguished itself by shooting all films (called video films) on digital video. This has allowed production schedules to be compressed (films are shot in several days) and immediately brought to market (distribution consists of bringing films to Idumota electronics market in Lagos and selling them for home viewing). The sheer volume of Nigerian video films is staggering: one estimate has a film being produced for each day of the year. Nollywood is now the third-largest film industry in the world, generating US$286 million a year for the Nigerian economy. And yet this vibrant, profitable industry is virtually unknown outside of Africa. Jamie Meltzer, director of "Off the Charts: The Song Poem Story," which premiered on PBS' prestigious Independent Lens series has created a fascinating look into this newly emerging film industry, exploring its peculiar inner workings, economic challenges, and diverse array of colorful films. Traveling to the country's chaotic capitol, Lagos, Meltzer spent six weeks following three of Nigeria's hottest directors, each different in personality and style, as they shot their films about love, betrayal, war, and the supernatural. "Welcome to Nollywood" tells the stories of these three directors and their latest productions, while also using interviews with scholars, actors, and journalists who celebrate the industry in insightful and often humorous ways, the Nigerian video-film industry as a whole, its unique character and genres, as well as its impact on the culture of west Africa and Africans at home and abroad.