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Nollywood Babylon, a Documentary About the Extraordinary Growth of the Film Industry in Nigeria to be Shown at MoMA
Nollywood Babylon (2008) Canada/Nigeria. Written, directed, and photographed by Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal. Pictured: Idumota Market, Lagos. Photo credit: Don Lobel. © 2008 National Film Board of Canada. All rights reserved.

NEW YORK, NY.- MoMA presents a weeklong run of the feature documentary Nollywood Babylon, which focuses on the brash, inventive, and wildly popular contemporary films being made in Nigeria today by enterprising filmmakers who make movies with low production values and shoestring budgets. Nollywood Babylon will be shown in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters from July 3 through 8, 2009.

“Nollywood”—a play on both “Bollywood” and “Hollywood”—is a new film genre that speaks to the everyday experiences of Nigerians with its bumptious, melodramatic, quickly made films that tell urban stories infused with voodoo and magic and, according to Nollywood Babylon’s filmmakers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, “reflect the collision of traditional mysticism and modern culture,” including Christian evangelism.

As the film explains at its start, Nigeria’s film industry, which just began in 1992, is now the third-largest in the world after India and the United States. Nollywood produces 2,500 films a year, most of which are made on a budget of under $10,000. For the most part, they are financed and sold by electronics merchants in the markets of Lagos, the largest city in Africa.

With a population of over 125 million people, Nigeria has many avid consumers of local movies. Video features are made in abundance—about 20 a week—and sold or rented on DVDs through market stalls across the nation, for home or community viewing. Nollywood Babylon, with a booming soundtrack of 1970s African underground music, takes viewers into the chaotic Idumota market, and introduces them to Nigerian filmmakers, stars, and fans.

The film is directed, written, and photographed by Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal, and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Addelman and Mallal are the filmmakers behind Bombay Calling (2006) and Discordia (2004), both of which were also made with the National Film Board of Canada. In 2007, the filmmakers launched AM Pictures.

MoMA Presents: Nollywood Babylon is organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

Museum of Modern Art | Nollywood | Nigeria | Ben Addelman | Samir Mallal | National Film Board of Canada |

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