Nigerians mean business
The biggest players in African film are about to burst onto the Sithengi scene when 130 Nigerian filmmakers arrive in Cape Town to do business.
Some of these filmmakers will be part of a delegation that heads up a forum on Co-production and Distribution possibilities with Nigeria. That discussion takes place formally on November 18th at the Sithengi conference. Many other delegates will be networking with local and international cineastes about the possibilities of business in South Africa and Nigeria.
The public will be treated to a kaleidoscope of Nigerian films on the African Magic Screen where they can choose between titles like Formidable Force, Beautiful Angel, King's Pride and Apostle Kasali.
Nigeria makes about 700 movies a year - films that are increasingly finding a following in South Africa. American movie companies are trying to make inroads on this phenomenal market force in a country where 120 million Nigerians regard VHS and VCD copies of the latest home-grown movie as part of their staple entertainment.
Joburg-based producer-director-actor, Akin Omotoso - who made God Is African and produced this year's competition entry, Gums And Noses - reckons that a symbiotic relationship between South Africa and Nigeria is all-important. The growth of Nigeria's film industry is vital to South Africa.
Omotoso believes there should be more reciprocity. The growth of African partnerships is as important to SA, if not more so, than linkages with Europe and the developed economies. He has, in the normal course of his business, been keeping lines of communication flowing between South Africa and Nigeria. "Discourse is already happening, under the radar," he says.
"I just want to meet up with the guys and find out what business they're doing and if we can do business - talk in the same way that I would talk to a Belgian, say. I understand the curiosity element about them (Nigerian filmmakers) but it's no different than anywhere else. It's not a weird thing."
The hyperbole and bad press that surrounds Nigerians masks the fact that their entrepreneurship in making movies that people want to see underlines big business.
Says Omotoso: "Nigerian audiences want to see Nigerian films. So there's a demand. And Nigerian producers understand their audience. So they produce movies for their market. It's a business - not like South Africa where nobody knows what South Africans want."
Source: Shitengi Newsletter