University Don speaks on the Nigerian film industry

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A university Don, Akin Adesokan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana university, Bloomington, had stated that the Nigerian film industry caught worldwide attention only in the last ten years, mostly after 2000. This, he said, coincided with the change in the political fortunes of the country following a string of nasty military dictatorships. He ascribed the accelerated growth of the film industry in the country to the phenomenal changes in the technology of film making and the fact that there are many Nigerians and other Africans living outside the continent than in, say, 1985.

Adesokan stated that what seemed to be the popularity of Nigerian films, has been in process for a long time. Nevertheless, he added regrettably that when the government started implementing the Structural Adjustment programme (SAP), a script given to it by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by removing subsidies from public services, devaluing the naira and so on, it just became impossible to do things from the commercial point of view.

According to him, "in Nigeria, film makers like Ola Balogun and Eddie Ugbomah had always thought of themselves as being in league with Ousmane Sembene or Euzhan Palcy. They used to do post production in the US or in England. Under the arrangement I am talking about, such an undertaking became a financial risk". Nigeria's cinema halls , he said, used to show mostly Indian films with periodic screenings of some local films. Adesokan stated that " SAP introduced a pervasive social dislocation such that film making, film exhibition and in fact, the entire system of cultural production- music, live theatre, book publishing and so on totally collapsed.

While comparing Nollywood to Hollywood and Bollywood as the American and Indian film industries are referred to respectively, the university Don emphasised that the naming, " puts Nigeria in the same league as the US and India, so to speak. But what people forget is that these two prior systems are better organised, they are integral to the economic system of their respective locales. That is not the case with what we have in Nigeria".

He pointed out that in the Nigerian film industry, the investment base is not there at all and film makers are still not assured of substantial bank loans. They depend on big men and the patronage of non- governmental organisations. How can a film industry depend on that as a capital base for capitalisation? He asked rhetorically.

He noted that "on technical level, in terms of how the language of the cinema is used to enunciate ideas, Nollywood is still very rudimentary, close to drama and soup operas. That is a major difference."

The university teacher also noted that the camera is still more of photographic tool, that is there to record people interacting rather than as a part of a complex apparatus. Besides, he added that the films are didactic- they try to pass unambiguous messages and available models are proliferative- the film extend imaginative possibilities in cinemas.

Adesokan observed that Nigerian films are quite popular among Africans both within and outside the continent.