Indigenous cinema is the key to global success for the Nigerian film industry. This idea was put across by the renowned filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, while speaking at the Filmmakers’ Forum organised by the GTBank Nollywood Studies Centre of the School of Media and Communication, Pan-African University, on the 25th of April, 2013.

Indicating the diversity and multilingualism prevalent in the film industry, Kelani noted that more films were being produced in the indigenous languages than in English. His interest in indigenous language films, he explained, was due to the influence on him of the great indigenous cinema of the early Nigerian filmmakers. According to him, “There’s a validity for indigenous language cinema as something you can package and take to the global arena.”

However, as Kelani went on to note, “Cinema in Nigeria at the moment is like an adventure.” He was responding to a question about the possibility of the filmmaker recouping production costs through the cinema houses. He pointed out that Nigeria currently boasts of a ratio of only one screen to three million people. This inadequate number of cinema houses thus makes it a challenge for filmmakers to recoup all their costs through that avenue.

Kelani went on to point out that the Nigerian filmmaker also has to deal with the fact that the cinema houses give preference to foreign films over Nigerian films. Thus, the Nigerian films, for instance, tend to be shown in time slots that do not favour large audiences. He also pointed to the real danger of the film being pirated in the cinema due to its digital form.

While emphasising the need to find solutions to the problems in the industry, the veteran filmmaker acknowledged the efforts of the Federal and Lagos State governments in this regard. He expressed the hope that the project of the Lagos State government to build community cinemas would yield early fruit.

Earlier, Kelani had delighted the audience with a first public showing of a new version of his film, Maami.  The large audience present at the occasion was warm in its appreciation.

The Filmmakers’ Forum is a monthly activity of the GTBank Nollywood Studies Centre. The Centre is focused on the study and promotion of the Nigerian film. It is located in the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-African University and is being funded by GTBank.

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