Who put the LA in Lagos? | Nollywood movies speaking volumes in global film industry

In the context of accelerating globalisation, the film industries of the Global South, including India, China and Africa are proving that cultural hybridity is equally as strong as the potentially homogenising forces associated with cultural imperialism (Schiller 1991, cited in Schaefer & Karen 2010, p.309).

While global flows from Western dominance do play a direct role in the penetration of cultures (Thompson 1995, cited in Schaefer & Karen 2010, p.465) they do not destroy local meaning systems (Appadurai 1996, p.32). Rather, a method of resistance through “indigenisation” occurs (Appadurai 1996, p.32) with different global elements localised to create new hybrid meanings and identities (Schaefer & Karen 2010, p.309). This is evident in the Nigerian movie industry – Nollywood, which is the third largest film industry worldwide (Chiakwelu 2013).

Nigerian films depict a hybridisation of African and Western culture (Onuzulike 2009, p.176). Whilst many Nigerian movie producers are now emulating Western lives and incorporating this influence into their filmmaking, they still express a strong desire to keep local stories in the narrative program (Okome 2007, p.3), using African idioms, proverbs, costumes, artifacts and imagery in their films (Onuzulike 2009, p.176). This produces a shared national identity which helps the African diaspora through allowing Americanised immigrant African born children in the West to be able to see their parent’s native homeland (Onuzulike 2009, p.185).

The streets in Nigeria are flooded with camera crews shooting on location ('Lights, camera, Africa' 2010)

The streets in Nigeria are flooded with camera crews shooting on location (‘Lights, camera, Africa’ 2010)

This reflects the ideas of Arjun Appadurai (1996, p.35), who argues that mediascapes position individuals in imaginary spaces that articulate a shared sense of national identity and address “the need of the deterritorialised population for contact with its homeland” (1996, p.38). Nigerian cinema thereby perpetuates Africa’s “imagined community” (Anderson 1991, cited in O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012, p.463), fulfilling the need of the diaspora to maintain strong links and comradeship with their homeland. This may however, be at odds with the contemporary national identity, as filmmakers forge a false unity based on faded images of the nation (Morley & Robins 1995, cited in Rueschmann 2003, p.8).

Hybridity is also evident in South Korea’s film industry – New Korean Cinema (‘Books About Korean Cinema’ n.d.). Korean cinema portrays issues immediate to Korean audiences while appropriating the transnational aesthetics of Hollywood and the national cinemas of Hong Kong and Japan to create a unique hybrid cultural form (‘Books About Korean Cinema’ n.d.). The nature of this hybridity is, however, ambivalent, with the utilisation of Hollywood blockbuster genres reflecting an attempt to simultaneously compete with Hollywood at home while also venture into the global market (Shin 2008, p.262).

Korean film production companies are also backed by affluent corporations and venture capitalists (‘Books About Korean Cinema’ n.d.). In comparison, Nollywood film producers are private individuals struggling to secure bank financing (Kay & Spillane 2013), pay Government protection fees (‘Lights, camera, Africa’ 2010) and face issues surrounding Africa’s inadequate legal frameworks and entertainment infrastructure (Chiakwelu 2013).

Perhaps Nollywood’s success can, therefore, be attributed to its grassroots nature (Onuzulike 2007, p.182). The raw energy and speed in which the films are shot, filmed and sold provide an avenue for promoting Nigerian cultural heritage to Africans in the diaspora (Onuzulike 2007, p.182). This “contra-flow” (Schaefer & Karen 2010, p.309) disrupts the notion that global flows of culture are one-way, while also challenging the dominant theory of globalisation as a homogenising force resulting in a loss of local cultural autonomy and identity.

Thousands of DVDs occupy narrow shelves in Nigeria ('Lights, camera, Nigeria' 2010)

Thousands of DVDs occupy shelves in Nigeria (‘Lights, camera, Nigeria’ 2010)


Reference List:

Appadurai, A 1996, ‘Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalisation’, University of Minnesota Press, India.

‘Books About Korean Cinema’ n.d., Koreanfilm.org, accessed 29 August 2014, <http://koreanfilm.org/books.html>.

Chauncey, S 2012, ‘Nollywood Bound’, image, Resonance, accessed 29 August 2014, <http://www.resonanceco.com/blog/nollywood-bound/>.

Chiakwelu, E 2013, ‘Nollywood missing from the Oscars’, Punch, 2 February accessed 29 August 2014, <http://www.punchng.com/opinion/nollywood-missing-from-the-oscars/>.

Kay, C & Spillane, C 2013, ‘Nollywood goes global as Nigeria filmmakers fight for more funding’, Mail & Guardian – Africa’s Best Read, 13 August, accessed 29 August 2014, <http://mg.co.za/article/2013-08-13-nollywood-goes-global-as-nigeria-filmmakers-fight-for-more-funding>.

‘Lights, camera, Africa’ 2010, The Economist, 16 December, accessed 20 August 2014, <http://www.economist.com/node/17723124>.

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, Postcolonial Text, vol.3, iss.2, p.1-21.

Olayemi, T 2013, ‘Nollywood’, image, Global Village Extra, accessed 30 August 2014, <http://globalvillageextra.com/nollywood-agog-for-nopa-2013/>.

Onuzulike, U 2009, ‘Nollywood: Nigerian Videofilms as a Cultural and Technological Hybridity’, Intercultural Communication Studies XVIII, vol.1, p.176-187.

O’Shaughnessy, M & Stadler, J 2012, ‘Chapter 25: Globalisation’ in ‘Media and Society’’, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.

Rueschmann, E 2003, ‘Moving Pictures, Migrating Identities’, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson.

Schaefer, DJ & Karan, K 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol.6, iss.3, p.309-316.

Shin, J 2008, ‘Negotiating Local, Regional, and Global: Nationalism, Hybridity, and Transnationalism in New Korean Cinema’, Indiana University, Indiana.

Stargardter, G 2012, ‘Can Nollywood Movies Survive Rampant Privacy?’, image, Columbia News Service, accessed 29 August 2014, <http://columbianewsservice.com/2012/02/pirates-abduct-nollywood-audience-filmmakers-fight-back/>.

‘What’s Korean Cinema? 2: Welcome To Dongmakgo!’ 2011, Podcast on Fire Network, image, accessed 29 August 2014, <http://podcastonfire.com/2011/03/what%E2%80%99s-korean-cinema-02-%E2%80%93-welcome-to-dongmakgol/>.


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