Is Nollywood getting better or worse? The answer could lie in the Nollywood era one grew up in. While 90’s Nollywood movies hold a certain lo-fi charm, including the ones leading into the early and mid-aughts, they were driven by ambitious filmmakers who worked within industry limitations.
Lack of funding, technical infrastructure and an upscale distribution network were just some of the challenges. How about the stories? The 90’s horror movie blitz puts Nollywood in the positive. Sure, storylines were not entirely the best but this era also saw the film industry explore genres from creature fantasy (Iva), crime thriller (Rattlesnake) to epics (Igodo). When it comes to acting, some might ask: was Nollywood better during this time?
This is arguable. Home videos back then fostered community and an atmosphere that was less critical about what was consumed. Cinemas and streaming platforms have been the drivers of new Nollywood, pivoting the film industry towards newer audiences and markets. Also, it gave way to the rise of unfettered criticism. This was the baseline when Twitter user @TheIgboWolf asked people for their cutthroat opinions about the industry.
The responses were caustic and unvarnished, tilting towards derision of new Nollywood mainly for its bad acting, recycling of actors, embracing Instagram comedians and reality stars. Pulse movie critic Precious Nwogu lampooned Netflix for picking up Namaste Wahala and Oloture, urging the streaming platform to make better acquisitions. Yoruba actor and meme king Odunlade Adekola was deemed overrated and a poor actor. AY Makun, who singlehandedly invented shlocky travel comedies, was asked to stop making movies while IrokeTV was praised for having a better lineup of Nollywood titles than Netflix.
”Nollywood directors see every criticism on their movies as “hate speech”,” Noble Igwe gave his two cents, which explains why Nollywood has had a running streak of bad films because criticisms are largely never regarded. There were also some interesting revelations, to put it that way. OC Ukeje and Femi Jacobs regarded as underrated actors, including Gabriel Afolayan.
From all this, the general sentiment indicates that Nollywood still needs a lot of internal work. In the responses, someone advised Nollywood filmmakers to watch Korean dramas. Perhaps this is good advice.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.