Two of Hollywood’s most illustrious institutions are partnering to present a weekend of screenings of some of the best Nollywood films in an event billed as the inaugural NOLLYWOOD IN HOLLYWOOD.
PREMIUM TIMES is a media partner for the event.
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, and Hollywood’s most prestigious screening venue, the Egyptian Theater. Many of the events will also 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 U.S. The American Cinematheque’s mission to present the full range of motion pictures to the widest possible audience already includes annual programs 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,” says John Hagelston of the American Cinematheque, operators of the Egyptian Theater.
Steve Gukas, Director of 93 DAYS, one of the selected films, says, “I am excited not only for 93 Days but for Nollywood as a whole. The pedigree of the organizations 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 this 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, adds, “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.”
It will be the first official event on the Hollywood cinema calendar after the 2017 calendar ends this weekend with the Academy Awards. 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.
“At the USC School of Cinematic Arts, we strive to present our students with a comprehensive overview of world cinema and trends in global entertainment industries. 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,” says Alex Ago, Director of Programming and Special Projects at USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Those expected at the event include the Hollywood film industry, the foreign media, political, economic and civic leaders in California, celebrities and Nigerians in the Diaspora. The screenings will be free of charge.
“We are presenting Nollywood, it’s stories, dreams and opportunities. We want the audience and the industry to see these films and think opportunities not ticket fees and parking. Hopefully, the Nigerian government will support it like the governments of the other film industries we run series on. This is big for the country and Nollywood. Hopefully, the corporate sector will join in too,” says Maceo Willis, the Operations Director for the event.
The event comes at a time when Nigeria needs all the positive exposure it can get after a spate of negative news in the international media. It doesn’t get better than in Hollywood where the eyes of the entertainment world will be on Nigeria and her film industry for an entire weekend.
“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.” says Ose Oyamendan, a Hollywood-based Nigerian-American filmmaker whose production company is facilitating the event.
“When they asked again last year, I realized 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. I also realized that in the time that I had said no, several Nigerian groups have tried to get Hollywood’s attention and got nowhere. With the Cinematheque and USC, Nollywood can finally crack that door open.”