Behind the fascination with the Nollywood phenomenon are women who have played a critical role in its evolution into an international “must see”.
Checkmate (1990) by Amaka Igwe
Amaka Igwe, who was trained in theater arts, has produced movies, series and soap operas for television, film and video. In the 1990’s the immensely popular soap opera, Checkmate catapulted her to national renown and is among the standard-setting works for Nollywood productions. Her short film, The Barber’s Wisdom is one of the few shot on celluloid among contemporary Nigerian filmmakers, which attests to the popularity of the home video movement from which Nollywood evolves. In addition to the central role she plays as filmmaker, Igwe is an important stakeholder in the Nigerian film industry. She is founder and organizer of BOBTV the acronym for Best of the Best TV, a film and television program market held annually in Abuja, Nigeria. In addition, it is a venue for meetings, conferences and workshops related to film/video.
Nollywood Lady (2008) featuring Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima by Dorothee Wenner
Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, a lawyer by training and CEO of the African Film Academy and founder of the African Movie Academy Awards, has a grassroots view of the purpose of Nollywood: to make films for the masses, not the elite. As she points out in the film, This is Nollywood, “what you have to remember about this society is that there are people in Africa who live on one dollar a day and these are the people that really watch these films.”(1) The goal of the African Film Academy is to ensure that there is training and funding for filmmakers in order to produce films so that the world may have a positive view of Africa.(2) Dorothee Wenner’s Nollywood Lady, features Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima as they navigate through Lagos, the capital of this vibrant, dynamic and dramatic moving-image phenomenon.
But before Amaka Igwe and Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, there was Lola Fani-Kayode, pioneer producer of Mirror in the Sun, one of Nigeria’s most successful television soap operas. In the mid-1980s Amaka Igwe recalls being immersed in the weekly episodes at 8 o’clock each Sunday night.(3) This seminal program was the impetus for her classic series, Checkmate.Notes
(1) Klappe auf in Afrika (Interview clip, Berlinale 2010)(2) Klappe auf in Afrika (Interview clip, Berlinale 2010)
(3) Who Defines Quality - Amaka Igwe (Africans Make Movies)