Nollywood Worldwide: streaming Nigerian films
February 16, 2013 8:59 AM   Subscribe

The Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood started humbly about 20 years ago. Nollywood movies were shot as cheaply and as quickly as possible, then released straight to VHS. The majority of Nollywood films are still sold offline, in outdoor markets from wheelbarrows or by the roadside from street vendors. In the early 2000s, Nollywood distribution shifted from VHS to discs — and now, the movies are also beginning to stream online. iROKO, one of the first companies to take Nigerian films online, is carefully tracking the viewing patterns of its growing audience. While Nigerian internet access is often subpar, streaming services are catering to the international diaspora. iROKOtv is a hub for streaming movies, with plenty of free movies alongside movies available as part of monthly membership. Their website grew out of their YouTube channel, which had over 400 movies online in 2011, though recently they are mainly posting trailers. If you're not sure which movies to see, Nollywood Forever has plenty of reviews, and has a ton of African movie trailers.
posted by filthy light thief (19 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

Streaming Nollywood? Be still my heart! This is great news. I used to live down the street from a dollar store that had cheap Nollywood DVDs. They were treasures.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2013

I smell a meetup and/or a film festival filled with awesome...

Sadly, I won't be attending... however, I can at least watch along at home...
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:10 AM on February 16, 2013

Thanks for this. Baby Police is one of my ten favorite films of the new millenium.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

On an unexpected evening trip from the rural town in Malawi where I work to the capital, Lilongwe, I randomly got on the fanciest bus I've ever seen in the country. It had a DVD player, and more than one screen to watch whatever was on. Of course, it was still Malawi, so I was standing in the middle aisle for most of the ~4 hour trip, so fanciness here is relative.

I am generally not a fan of Nollywood productions - too much soap opera for my tastes. On this trip, though, I was totally caught up in the schemes of Flora against her friend Rose. Rose was a hardworking young woman who managed to get a job doing business in the big city. On a return trip to her village, she saw her first love, Danny, and brought him to the city with her. At first, Flora couldn't stop insulting his country ways, but after he put on a new shirt and had some business success, Flora was all about that Danny action. Danny eventually left Rose, who had had his baby and lost her job.

Just when Rose's sister decided to apply for a job as Danny and Flora's maid, the DVD stopped working. My standing neighbor and I bitterly decried this turn of fate, almost as bitterly as we decried Flora's evil, home-wrecking ways and Rose's weak passivity. Apparently, I just needed the right context to get sucked into Nollywood: standing and gossiping on a crowded Malawian bus for four hours.

After this, we were treated to a Zambian comedy duo, and if there's anything that will make you wish you were watching a Nollywood soap opera, it's a Zambian comedy duo.
posted by palindromic at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2013 [21 favorites]

According to a quick bit of web searching, you are talking about She Is My Sister (or possibly the sequel, She Is My Sister 2, also released in 2007). Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the movie(s) online, but from the review of the first movie, it sounds like the first movie ends in a bit of a cliffhanger leading up to the sequel, so perhaps you're better off not seeing the end of the first.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

And for another source of Nollywood reviews, you can look through IMDb's collection "Most Popular Titles With Country of Origin Nigeria", though they might not all be true Nollywood films.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:32 AM on February 16, 2013

Honestly, the movies are crap, but I really recommend watching the documentary "Nollywood Babylon". It's a great overview of the industry, the economics and some of the history of Nigerian cinema.
posted by gertzedek at 11:45 AM on February 16, 2013

Self link YT. My review of 666 Beware the End is at Hand! One of the Nigerian movies a friend brought me back from Malawi.
posted by PHINC at 11:46 AM on February 16, 2013

Afropop Worldwide, and PRI's The World have done a great radio documentary on the music of nollywood.
posted by honest knave at 12:01 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

> Honestly, the movies are crap

Obviously you simply can't appreciate the dramatic sexy drama sexiness of such works of art like Crime Suspect.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:29 PM on February 16, 2013

I never even knew I should be excited about this. Thank you!
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:30 PM on February 16, 2013

>Self link YT. My review of 666 Beware the End is at Hand! One of the Nigerian movies a friend brought me back from Malawi.

That's a good review, I especially liked the ending. It left me in suspense.

Honestly, I don't think I could watch many of these movies, but they seem like the kind of bizarre things I'd like to have running at a party, or in a bar if I owned one.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2013

Crime Suspect is, indeed, the sexy drama sexiest work of art I have seen today.

But I wondered why are they were all speaking English in every clip.
There seemed like a smattering of Nigerian slang (?) in the clip from Baby Police I saw (wherein the baby appeared to be sexually harassing a much older lady, which doesn't seem very police-like behaviour to to me) but learning that English is the official language in Nigeria was quite a turn up.
posted by Mezentian at 6:56 PM on February 16, 2013

The English language content is a bit of a heated topic for some in the Nollywood scene, but this article has a lot of commentary and research on the topic. The key take-away is the first footnote:
About half of Nigeria speaks English, though speakers of the ‘big three’ languages – Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo – outnumber English speakers (an observation somewhat complicated by the fact that people often speak two or more languages). In spite of this, there was one officially one Igbo film put out last year, equaling the number of Spanish films made and released in Nigeria.
In short, my guess is because the 158 million citizens speak some 500 languages, and English is the most common factor.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 PM on February 16, 2013

Another thing about using English is that Nigerian movies are by no means sold or distributed in Nigeria exclusively. DVDs of Nollywood movies are sold inexpensively in just about every sub-Saharan African country. English is spoken by a lot more of the potential customers in, say, Kenya than Yoruba is.
posted by palindromic at 8:18 PM on February 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Nigerian movies are hugely popular here in
South Africa. Not surprising from a culture that
loves dramatic soap operas. There's definitely a
large market down here and in Zim for English-
language films. (I've seen several that are subtitled in English, which also works.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:42 PM on February 16, 2013

I'm glad to see that some other people have enjoyed "Baby Police" too! I haven't had that much luck with other Nollywood films, but Baby Police was captivating, particularly because of the acting by the lead Osita Iheme (who was, FYI, 21 years old when he played the baby). His performance is intense and maniacal and he out-Kinskis Klaus Kinski playing an amoral, unhinged madman. Unlike Kinski he seems to be a thoughtful and charitable guy off-camera, at least if his facebook feed is any indication.
posted by metaman livingblog at 12:26 AM on February 17, 2013

filthy light thief has it, there are about 300 languages in Nigeria so english or pidgin mean the film is more widely accessible. Having said that the films in indigenous languages tend to be much better put together and dramatic. Like any popular artform (fanfic, thinking of you) some of them are really good. Worth looking out for.

Ooh, a comedy: Osuofia in London. Funny, and not PC at all. "But Osuofia, I don't know how to cook!" "But you're a woman?!!"
posted by glasseyes at 3:43 PM on February 17, 2013

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