Two of Hollywood’s most illustrious institutions have concluded arrangements to screen some of the best Nollywood films in an event tagged: Nollywood in Hollywood.
The events, scheduled for March 23 and 24, will be co-presented by the world’s leading film programme, the School of Cinematic Arts, at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States of America and Hollywood’s most prestigious screening venue, the Egyptian Theatre.
Many of the events would be live-cast to audiences in Nigeria and around the world.
“Africa’s most populous country is home to one of the world’s most prosperous film industries, but, Nigerian cinema still has a relatively low profile in the United States.
“The American cinematheque’s mission to present the full range of motion pictures to the widest possible audience already includes annual programmes devoted to new films from Spain, Germany, Italy, Argentina and other countries. So, the chance to bring Nollywood to Hollywood, for a night, made perfect sense,” said John Hagelston of the American Cinematheque, operators of the Egyptian Theatre.
Director of 93 Days, Steve Gukas, one of the selected films, said: “I’m excited not only for 93 Days, but for Nollywood as a whole.
“The pedigree of the organisations putting this together tells me this is a unique opportunity for our film, myself and the industry. The thought of my film screening at the world famous Egyptian Theatre is mind-blowing. I believe it is a unique opportunity that Nollywood can leverage on to showcase itself and attract the needed support and partnerships necessary for its continued growth.”
Kunle Afoloyan, director of another selection, The Bridge, added: “I believe the Nollywood in Hollywood event is a course in the right direction. I’m glad that The Bridge will be screening, as part of the programmes and, I also look forward to mutual exploration between the two worlds.”
The event represents a milestone for the Nigerian cinema industry.
It is the first time Nigerian films will be presented to the Hollywood industry at an event designed solely for Nigeria. It joins a film series curated in Hollywood, every year, for seven other countries – Italy, Spain, Japan, Argentina, Germany, Ireland, and Canada.
“Our hope is that by presenting Nollywood in Hollywood at USC, our students will have an opportunity to interact with leading figures from this rapidly growing and increasingly influential industry.
“It is particularly exciting to celebrate stories from Africa, in the wake of the global phenomenon of Marvel’s Black Panther, which was directed by USC alumnus, Ryan Coogler,” said Alex Ago, director of Programming and Special Projects at USC School of Cinematic Arts.
According to Ose Oyamendan, a Hollywood based Nigerian-American filmmaker, whose production company is facilitating the event: “The idea first came up a few years ago, but, I was not interested because, frankly, I don’t work in Nollywood and I saw no benefit in it for me.
“But, then, the South Africans come to town, put up a show with no Hollywood affiliation and shut down the town. Since then, productions are flying to South Africa, trainings are flying to South Africa, studios and networks are building facilities there, their actors and filmmakers are here a lot, everyone thinks South Africa is Africa.
“When they asked again, last year, I realised it was not about me. It was about helping to develop Nigeria’s cinema, get the filmmakers maximal exposure for their films and, maybe, we can start getting better training opportunities, a bigger market, foreign investors, maybe more foreign productions into Nigeria and eventually get Nollywood films into foreign Oscars’ watch list,” Oyamendan said…