Sandra Mooser (2011):
Nollywood meets Switzerland. Nigerianische Videofilme und ihr Publikum in der Schweiz
In the last two decades Nigeria has developed a unique video film industry, which forms – owing to its enormous productivity of 900 to 2000 films per year – one of the world’s biggest film industries. Nollywood – as the Nigerian video film business is called according to its two main global competitors Hollywood and Bollywood – creates thereby an image of Africa which differs entirely from the widespread views on the continent. Instead of helpless people in poverty and misery, these films offer a vivid picture of modern Africa and its self-confident, proud, and active residents. Since most of these video mass productions do not correspond to common film standards, Western as well as African film critics often dismiss them as “cultural trash”. This criticism, however, disregards the completely different social, economic, technical, and historical background in which Nollywood videos are produced. Moreover, it stands in sharp contrast to the films’ enormous popularity and the fact that the audience-oriented Nollywood has not only become a success inside Nigeria but is also characterized by its ongoing expansion beyond the country’s border. As a result of this wide circulation of the videos produced in the informal and decentral structures of Nigerian film industry the afro-centric film perspectives from Nigeria are now available all over the world – also in non-African countries like Switzerland.
This master’s thesis studies such new evolving audiences in the transnational space through the example of Switzerland. It seeks to answer the questions of who consumes Nigerian video films and which meanings these video products bear for their audiences. This thesis is based upon a multi-methodical approach that includes, on the one hand, the analysis of five Nigerian video films, and on the other, participant observation and written questioning of, as well as personal interviews with Nollywood consumers living in Switzerland. The data gathered in the course of this field research have been analysed within the theoretical framework of Appadurai’s (1996) global mediascapes.
This study shows, for instance, that Nollywood recipients in Switzerland prefer to consume their videos in company with others, however, in private spheres. Furthermore, it sheds light on the complex relationship between the video film industry in Nigeria and its consumers in the transnational space. That is to say, Nigerian filmmakers are aware of their recipients outside of Nigeria, whereas these transnational recipients, in turn, exert influence on Nollywood from outside the country. In this sense, migratory consumers use Nollywood’s fiction stories not only as a way of entertainment but also as “models of behaviour” (Barber 1997), thus as a platform of self-reflection and discussion of life in diaspora.
Nollywood, Nigerian video films, Nigeria, Switzerland, film audiences, reception, globalization, mediascapes, diaspora, transmigration, identity