Even though Nigeria didn’t get much love at this year’s edition of the FESPACO film festival in Burkina Faso, some Parisian organizers of a weekly festival of films from Nollywood, believe that the Francophone world has been ready for Naija cinema. Nollywood, the world’s second largest film industry, produces over 2000 films annually, and now, seven of its best will be screened at France’s first ever NollywoodWeek Paris (and we’re wholeheartedly endorsing this). From May 30 to June 2, 2013, the L’Arlequin Theatre in Saint-Germain-des-Prés will host the festival, which is to include a VIP cocktail with the filmmakers, panel discussions and a crafts marketplace. Here‘s the festival trailer.
Nollywood already has some popularity in France. A new channel, Nollywood TV, has launched. A walk through Barbès and Château Rouge in Paris reveals shops chock full of films from around West Africa. Nollywood still doesn’t have much access to mainstream France however, something the organizers of the film festival are hoping to change. NollywoodWeek is preparing to be an annual event, in order to “foster distribution opportunities in this untapped market.” Instead of popcorn, expect to be served beignets and Nigerian meat pies.
The festival’s film line-up features established stars like Genevieve Nnaji in “Ijé” and Hakeem Kae-Kazim in “Last flight to Abuja.” Two of the films that are scheduled for screening we’ve reviewed here previously: Man on Ground (not strictly produced in the Nollywood system, but made in South Africa; Akin Omotoso is more South African than Nigerian) and Maami.
Here are the five other films that made the cut:
“Phone Swap” by Kunle Afolayan (Director will be present): Akin and Mary accidentally bump into each other and mistakenly swap their identical phones, leading to a destination mix up. Akin is now at Mary’s destination and visa versa which is where they discover that their phones were swapped. Still determined to make each of their travel’s a success, each must carry out the other’s mission which soon proves to not be an easy task! The result? Hilarious situations and unexpected outcomes.
“Inalé” by Jeta Amata and Keke Bongos: Inalé is the beautiful daughter of the great King Oche, of the Idoma people in Idomaland, Nigeria. Her beloved Odeh must win the wrestling tournament to win her hand in marriage. A stranger appears, that challenges not only the tradition of the village but the strength of Odeh and Inalé’s true love.
“Ijé” (The Journey) by Chineze Anyaene: When Anya, the eldest of the two, vows to chase her dreams of glamour in the Hollywood Hills, her younger sister, Chioma, warns her of the dark side of the American Dream. Now, years later, and in a world away from the life she knew, Anya is charged with the murder of three men, one of them her powerful husband. Chioma travels from Nigeria to Los Angeles and, with the help of a young, unproven attorney, discovers that the dark secret her sister wants to keep hidden might be the only thing that can win her freedom.
“Tango With Me” by Mahmood Ali-Balogun: Lola and Uzo are the perfect couple, their newly married life in front of them. All is well until the happiest day of their lives became the worst.
“Last Flight to Abuja” by Obi Emelonya: Based on true events. A set of everyday Nigerian travelers board the last Flamingo Airways flight scheduled to fly from Lagos to Abuja on a fateful Friday night in 2006. The plane cruises at 30,000 feet on schedule but like a bolt out of the blue, through a mixture of human error and technical failure, the plane rapidly spirals towards a disastrous end. As the pilots try to get a handle on the situation, a series of flashbacks unravel the twists, turns and leaps of fate that put each passenger on the fateful flight. Young lovers, an elderly couple, a corporate party, a sportsman on the threshold of greatness; all contemplating the final moments of their lives. All, except one.