Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Nigerian video industry has been the subject of a large number of documentary films and festival retrospectives around the world. Their objective was, in most of the cases, introducing the Nigerian video phenomenon to non-African audiences. As much of the literature on the video industry has evidenced, Nollywood’s specific modes of operation made the Nigerian video industry almost incommensurable to other experiences of filmmaking in the world. As a consequence, during its first decade of existence the Nigerian video phenomenon remained practically “invisible” to non-African audiences. The retrospectives and documentaries that appeared since the early 2000s had the objective of filling this gap and making Nollywood visible within the global cinematic arena. However, the representation of the video phenomenon that these “metacultural” constructions (Urban) circulated have participated in creating a rigid (and in some cases stereotypical) definition of Nollywood, which has had a specific role in defining the position of the Nigerian video industry in the global cinematic landscape. In this article, I analyze these discursive constructions in order to understand and interpret the representation of the video phenomenon that they have produced. As I will argue, the representation of Nollywood that they circulated can be considered as the result of a specific form of “postcolonial exotic” (Huggan), one in which the fascination for non-Western declinations of modernity takes the place of the fascination for the archaic, the traditional, and the tribal. As I will show in the last section of this essay, in reaction to this kind of representation a number of directors and producers moved toward new economic and narrative strategies. By doing this they aim at moving Nollywood away from the marginal position in which the “postcolonial-exotic” discourse implicit in these representations has positioned it.


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pp. 157-178
Launched on MUSE
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