Movies have a way of delving into our homes and hearts, conveying important messages, themes, social issues, morals and great acting. Directors push the boundaries, question certain restrictions and spark debate over social, personal and political issues. This is no different for the world’s 3rd largest film industry in the world… Nollywood.
With hundreds of films being churned out on low budgets, basic and amateur equipment and taking only 10 days to produce a film, Nollywood films possess a strong sense of realism, reflecting, raising awareness and questioning current issues. Nollywood films aren’t generally viewed in the traditional way we in Australia are used to. Instead of sitting in the lounge room with just your family watching a film, the streets of Lagos become the loungerooms of Nigeria. This ‘street audience’ that occurs on the street corners bring people together to engage with eachother and the film (Okome, 2007). Popular culture, in Hollywood or Nollywood, helps with the ‘construction of identity (in relation to) environment’ and is ‘locus of public debate and of individual and community agency’ (Abah, 2009).
Nigeria is plagued by corruption, and their is a strong desire for social change. According to Abah, social change occurs through ‘communication, coordination and collective action by groups of citizens who wish to change institutions and policies which govern them’ (p 737, 2009) Because of the amount of people who access Nollywood films, the way in which they engage with them, independency from government, potentially allows Nollywood to act as a mediator to generate and encourage social change and improve the democratic process by providing a ‘progressive outlook; equitable distribution of power, curb injustice and the enforcement of civil and sexual rights’ (Abah, p 738, 2009).
Media, especially film has the potential to create social change not just in Nigeria but across the globe. The sense of unity created through national film industries can strengthen communities an countries and together can create change. It is far easier in a place like Australia or America where we are influenced by liberal Hollywood cinema where we have better democratic processes, unlike Nigeria where corruption, lack of education and poverty intervene with citizens power to act on their ideas. As Nollywood gets stronger and stronger, so will the citizens of Nigeria, allowing Nollywood films to mediate and encourage the country’s much needed social change.
Welcome to Nollywood – Trailer – YouTube. 2014. Welcome to Nollywood – Trailer – YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSNC5UIdj0I. Accessed 28 August 2014
Okome, O 2007 Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption, Postcolonial Text, Vol 3, University of Alberta.
Abah, A.L. 2009, “Popular culture and social change in Africa: the case of the Nigerian video industry”, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 731-748.http://mcs.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/31/5/731, Accessed 28 August 2014