The rise of the African film industry can be traced back to the decolonization period of the continent. Despite the prior existence of such an industry under foreign rule, the African film industry did not reflect an accurate portrayal of the cultures it was intending to represent. Instead, the film industry was permeated by stereotypes and Africa was utilized merely as an “exotic” background for Western cinema.
However, this underwent a significant change during the 1960s, when numerous African countries obtained their independence. This is especially true of the former French colonies, whose local filmmakers received technical and financial support from the French Ministry of Cooperation.
Spearheaded by individuals such as François Mitterand, efforts to encourage the integration of African film production as a part of the cultural, political and economic development of the continent were further strengthened in the 1980s. Also, as the vast majority of films made before the countries´ decolonization were explicitly racist, many African directors who gained prominence post-independence, such as Ousmane Sembene and Oumarou Ganda, used the art of filmmaking as a political instrument in order to rightly restore their image which had been wrongly depicted by Westerners. Thus, African cinema came to strongly feature social and political themes and the neocolonial condition. However, Africa is a vast continent and its countries and cultures have their own specific cultural, political and geographical backgrounds and elements that are uniquely expressed in a myriad of manners in their films. Examples of Film Industries in Africa To illustrate the rich variety among the African film industry, it is worth looking at a few examples.
South-Africa, for instance, established itself as the financial and technological “super-power” of Africa in the final years of the 1990s (which marked the end of Apartheid rule), having overcome prior restrictions imposed on international access and production. Also, the first African film to win an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film was Tsotsi (2006), a South- African production.
Another African nation that is boasting a rapidly growing international cinematic industry is Nigeria. ´Nollywood´s´ expansion is seeing the production of over 1000 films per year, albeit low-budgeted productions. This is reflected in the fact that the average cost of a Nollywood film is between $25.000 and $70.000, whereas the average cost of a Hollywood movie is $250mn. These films are generally geared towards the lower classes and poorer communities more than towards an international audience. This thriving industry holds much promise for the African film industry which is witnessing attempts to achieve greater autonomy from Western financial support. The Nigerian film industry is indisputably diversifying its economy by creating jobs in a country that depends principally on oil and agriculture. The Nigerian film industry is known to be the most popular on the African continent. The estimated annual revenue of Nollywood is $590mn.
The Potential of the African Film Industry The African cinema industry acknowledges undeniably the need to develop its own way of making films, support their local initiatives, and invest in cinematic cultures such as films festivals. Although the African film industry does not currently attract the same levels of popularity claimed by the well-developed European and American industries, it has shown significant growth and progress in the beginning of the 21st century, a fact reflected in part by the creation of a Journal of African Cinema and African TV channels. Such mediums act as awareness raising mechanisms and promote the diffusion of films, allowing the African film industry to attract genuine interest from the international community.
Global hit movies like Black Panther have also catapulted the African film industry as it made many people curious and interested about African themed movies.
Now huge companies like Netflix have released t.v series like Queen Sono, a South African based Intelligence show and also the recent Blood & Water.
This is showing how big the African film industry is growing in a global scale. African is a great continent with greatly talented people, we expect nothing but more good news on its Entertainment industry.