Nollywood’s booming Christian film industry

Nigeria: Christian movie capital of the world (CT):

Nollywood recently surpassed Hollywood in film production, according to a UNESCO survey released in May. The Lagos-based industry has existed for less than 20 years, yet produced 872 feature-length films in 2006, nearly twice Hollywood’s 485 productions. (Both trailed India, which produced more than 1,000 films.)

Most Nigerian films, almost all of which are low-budget affairs shot on location and released on DVD, are spiritual in nature. About 20 percent are Christian, according to Obidike Okafor, an arts and culture reporter at Nigerian newspaper Next. Others champion Islam, animism and witchcraft, or simple morality.

The Christian-themed movies often aim at encouragement and evangelism more than sheer entertainment. Groups or churches often screen the films and follow them with discussions or an altar call…

…"Half of the Christian movies are not done by faith-based organizations, but by directors who want to take advantage of the strong religious inclinations of Nigerians to sell [movies]," Okafor said. "The others do it to promote their faith."…

…Nollywood’s Christian films offer revelations into what one of the world’s fastest-growing Christian populations believe, [Philip] Jenkins said. "When people are discussing splits within [Nigerian] churches, or moral issues, it helps to know the supernatural vision underlying some of these concerns. … If you went to America in 1800 and wanted to find out about the nature of their religion, you’d listen to the hymns. These videos also give you a good snapshot [of what Nigerians believe.]"

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