Storytellers: Nigerian Sidewalk Video

Are Nigerian video stories examples of "community media" ? Are these films just low budget attempts to mimic Hollywood and Bollywood? How have their grass roots distribution networks impacted media consumption in West Africa? This exhibition in Berlin is an assessment of some of the more interesting films that this prolific movement has produced.
-DeeDee Halleck

Shown at "the building"
, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

10249 Berlin DE
, T: 030 28 04 79 73Saturday, March 28th 2009, 2- 6 PM

Storytellers: an afternoon screening of Nollywood films
The Nigerian video-film industry started with a guerrilla attitude and grew over the past 15 years to be the third largest film industry worldwide, releasing more than 30 films per week. Strongly linked to daily West African life and told from a native point of view, Nollywood reaches its audience with stories of common concern, such as love, faith and betrayal.

The introduction of affordable recording techniques promoted the rise of an industry whose medium was to become a mean of expression for future filmmakers. They distribute their movies in VHS and DVD to reach a large audience via sidewalks and local markets.

The technical advancement provides not only a voice to many filmmakers. The democratization of movie making also allows for a much shorter production time that enables them to respond faster to reality's development. Certain political events have turned into films only two weeks after taking place, fictionalizing reality by filling the gaps of missing information with personal or collective narratives.

Apart from the appearance of some Nollywood films at international festivals, this genre remains an African phenomenon - widely accessible and influential in Africa, with its own modi of circulation and distribution, but hardly to be found at international rental stores.

Looped program on several screens:

"What I want" (Consorts International Ltd.)
"Our days on earth" (JBM Merchandise)
"Congo Marriage" (Samlex Electronics Co. Ltd.)
"Congo Marriage 2" (Samlex Electronics Co. Ltd.)
"Miss Nigeria" (Ossy Affason Video)
"Miss Nigeria 2" (Ossy Affason Video)
"Wounded Land 2" (Ayo Industries Nig. Ltd.)
"Jealous Mind" (Okayson Electronics Ltd.)
"Love, Sex & Marriage" (Ulzee Nig. Ltd.)
"Not my man" (P. Collins and Associates Ltd.)
"2 Hell with u" (Morning Star Production)

Selected by Clara Meister with special thanks to Uli Seifert

Nollywound: Unwritten plot

The screen comes alive
No action
Just takes,
all fakes in a thousand re-takes
New Slate, same place
Our eyes are bruised by Nollywood.
We carry a plaster over a Nollywound
of pain and senseless fragments
of unending stories.
The sequels just like a nation’s transitions in slow painful motions.

The screen claims a life
and a strident voice
in the wilderness promises laurels
for this unwritten plot
hindered by troubling writer’s block.
Stories like nations with power blocs
hoping to gain attention.

The screen sells a lie
and a nation once again
pregnant from the
remnant seeds of
recalcitrant political mothers
willing at all times to throw
thighs apart for
itinerant political fathers
who aborted pregnancies of yester-years.

The screen buys our gaze
as the belly of a nation
is swollen
but the birth-chord
is stolen even before birth.
Mid-wives are still in morality training school taking lessons before their test.
The political maternity ward
is under construction
and supervision of cash and carry consultants.

The screen fades to black
and viewers are back for posers
How shall we deliver a test-tube baby:
Who already speaks from mother’s womb
talking of wounds past,
passing codes from Swiss accounts
to sweet accounts buried beyond
talons of transparency accountants.

The screen brings them back
and the lost fish for posers:
How shall we deliver a test-tube baby:
Who already counts the days
when voters with buttered breads
will cast their curses and cause
the usual heart wound that issues
like Nollywood windy movies.

© Kole Ade Odutola



Kole Ade Odutola, Nigeria, Nollywood, Lagos, Clara Meister, Platz der Vereinten Nationen, Berlin, Swiss