Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The African Silver Screen

Back in 2006, I did a Masala Bhangra workout taught by Sarina Jain. It was great! Loved the dance moves and I got to shake my head and roll my neck as much as I wanted. I was so ready to go to an Indian wedding. Sometimes I still break out some of the moves when I’m watching the Punjabi Playboy make his way to the ring. Now after the great showing Slumdog Millionaire had at the Oscars, folks are decreeing “Hollywood goes Bollywood!”
Next stop, Nollywood?

For those that aren’t aware, Nollywood is the term coined to describe the Nigerian movie industry (one of my homelands). They’re known for producing movies on very limited budgets in record time. Quality 
can suffer in some of the films, but the stories are always full of drama, twists and turns and comedy. And it’s a $250 million dollar industry. In the US, we have “Black Cinema” so to speak, Tyler Perry being the most recent addition. And in most movies we have the same cast of characters played by the same actors. Let’s list them together, shall we (past & present): Sanaa Latham, Taye Diggs, Boris Kudjoe, Angela Bassett, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Blair Underwood, Kimberly Elise, Larenz Tate, Nia Long etc. plus the musician/singer/rapper turned actor.

What made 
Slumdog Millionaire a household name? Hollywood was willing to take a chance and spend money on it. Distributors had to pay to get it on screens across the US. Would Hollywood invest in Africa the same way? Does Nollywood want Hollywood’s help?

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