The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Valerie Ricordi, MOCA
Over the last decade and a half, the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, has grown to be the second most prolific in the world, after India’s Bollywood. Its acclaim was initially restricted to Nigerian and African audiences but as an English language art form, its productions are now widely-distributed in the UK, Ireland, and the Caribbean via satellite, cable and Internet outlets such as YouTube. With the support of a Knight Arts Challenge grant, MOCA North Miami will present “Nollywood: Alternative Expressions in Contemporary Cinema Art,” a three-day film festival slated for 2016, to examine this significant new artistic phenomena in-depth.
Nollywood has become the principal means by which images of contemporary life in Africa and the African diaspora are disseminated. Largely self-taught directors, who are also self-financed, rely heavily on popular digital technology to produce their films. The result is a vernacular form of expression that reflects the cultural geography of modern Africa. Nollywood has come to represent a powerful force that enables Africans to tell African stories and to share those stories with a global audience.
The Nollywood film festival at MOCA will include film screenings, panel discussions and ancillary programs to provide a forum to examine Nollywood and to observe how new media technologies and business models shape creative industries in Africa. As the first U.S. museum to present this phenomenal artistic expression, the program will explore Nollywood’s influence on contemporary culture and on artists such as Njdeka Akunyili, Wangechi Mutu, Peter Hujar and Mickalene Thomas.
“We are very excited to provide a forum to explore the global impact of Nigerian cinema, “ said Alex Gartenfeld, MOCA’s Interim Director and Chief Curator. “MOCA has an international reputation for illuminating new trends in contemporary art and culture, and given the influence Nollywood has on West African and Caribbean audiences, so prevalent in South Florida, this is a wonderful opportunity to be at the forefront of this important cultural exchange.”