Nollywood—the Lagos-based Nigerian film industry—has become the third-largest film industry in the world, and it is by far the most powerful purveyor of an image of Nigeria to domestic and foreign populations. It consists of many small producers working with tiny amounts of capital; it therefore has not been able to build its own spaces—studios, theaters, office complexes—and remains nearly invisible in the Lagos cityscape, apart from film posters and the films themselves, displayed for sale as cassettes or video compact discs. Material constraints and the small screens for which the films are designed shape the images of Lagos that appear in them. Nigerian videos differ markedly from typical African celluloid films, both in their "film language" and in their handling of the city. They present Lagos as a turbulent and dangerous landscape, where class divisions are extreme but permeable, and enormous wealth does not buy insulation from chaos and misery. They show supernatural forces permeating all social levels, particularly the wealthiest. A shared realism, born of location shooting and common strategies for imaging the desires and fears of the audience, creates a considerable coherence in the representation of Lagos, despite the size and variety of the city and the industry.


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pp. 131-150
Launched on MUSE
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