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The Nigerian cinema, frequently referred to unofficially as Nollywood, comprises of films made in Nigeria; its history goes way back as the colonial era, late 19th century. In that time the first medium of watching films in Nigeria came as viewing of motion pictures through peephole.
According to Emeagwali (2004) “These were soon replaced at the start of the 20th century with better motion picture presentation devices, with the first set of films screened at the Glover Memorial Hall in Lagos from the 12th to 22nd of August 1903”. The earliest film that was shot in the Nigeria was Palaver a romance drama shot in 1926 by Geoffrey Barkas. It was also the first ever to feature Nigerians in speaking roles. “As at 1954, mobile film vans played to at least 3 million people in Nigeria, and films being produced by the Nigerian Film Unit were screened for free at the 44 available cinemas. The first film exclusively copyrighted to the Nigerian Film unit is Fincho (1957) by Sam Zebba; which is also the first Nigerian film to be shot in colour” Goethe Institute.
According to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA 2001) “television broadcasting in Nigeria began in the late1950s as Western Nigerian Government Broadcasting Corporation (WNTV) and received much government backing in its beginning. By the mid-1980s every state had its own broadcasting station”. (NIFICON 2010) stated that “Law limited foreign television content so producers in Lagos began televising local popular theatre productions”. These were distributed on videotape as well, and a small-scale unofficial video movie trade developed.
Some people point to the 1992 film Living in Bondage, a film about a man whose businesses with a cult lead to the death of his spouse, as the industry’s first notable film that can be called a ‘blockbuster’. “Within the span of 25 years, so many movies have been released running into the high tens of thousands as it was stated that Nollywood produces a whopping 1,500 films per year” (Flock 2017). One of the first Nigerian films to gain international attention was the 2003 release of Osuofia In London, featuring Nkem Owoh, a famous Nigerian comedian.
Modern Nigerian cinema’s most productive auteur is Chico Ejiro, who directed over 80 films in a 5-year period and brags that he can “complete production on a movie in as little as three days”. Chico’s brother Zeb Ejiro is the best-known director of these videos outside Nigeria.
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