The Institute of African Studies presents:

New Directions in Nollywood and Nigerian Cinema

April 21-22, 2016

612 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University

In the 1990s, the previous century of African film culture was revolutionised by the emergence to continent-wide popularity of Nigerian cinema often referred to as Nollywood.  These films have existed now for two decades but the nature of the industry and its place in society is in flux, subject to constant technical, institutional and aesthetic change.  Their immense success has generated a sustained backlash. Longstanding critiques that the films are thematically vulgar and technically embarrassing have generated the emergence of a ‘new Nollywood’ designed to create a more sophisticated cinema.  For others, dissatisfaction with Nollywood has driven a turn toward vernacular films which are seen as more ‘culturally’ or ’religiously’ appropriate. The result is that these films, and their place in Nigerian society, is changing.

This workshop is divided into two days:  On Thursday it will screen a new film, ’76, by Izu Ojukwu, one of Nigeria’s most important current directors.  The workshop the next day brings together emergent scholarship on Nigerian cinema by those most familiar with the radical changes that the film industry is undergoing.  It breaks apart the monolith of Nollywood by also focusing attention on Yoruba and Hausa cinema as well as the interrelations between all three.  What is singular about Nigerian films is that they have developed aesthetic forms, genres, and technical infrastructures that are highly distinctive especially when compared to other mainstream popular cinemas from Hollywood, to Egyptian, to Hindi film.   The conference will chart these similarities and distinctions and the new directions in which the film industry is heading.  Based around the work of emerging scholars it also discusses the directions in which the scholarship on Nollywood is being taken by a new generation of scholars.


  • Akin Adesokan, Indiana University
  • Awam Ampka, New York University
  • Anouk Batard, Sciences Po, Toulouse
  • Jonathan Haynes, Long Island University
  • Musa Ibrahim, Bayreuth University
  • Alessandro Jedlowski, University of Liège
  • Brian Larkin,  Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Carmen McCain, Kwara State University. Director, the Nollywood Project.
  • Yomi Ogunsanya, Osun State University
  • Izu Ojukwu Filmmaker
  • Noah Tsika, Queens College, City University of New York

Conference organized by Brian Larkin and the Institute of African Studies, with help from Jonathan Haynes.  Support from Departments of Africana Studies and Anthropology, Barnard College, the Departments of Anthropology, Art History, Film Studies, and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University.



‘76, directed by Izu Ojukwu 

‘76 is a historical drama set against the backdrop of the unsuccessful coup and assassination of General Murtala Mohammed in 1976.  Just after the civil war a middle belt soldier starts a relationship with a woman from the South-East crossing the intense divisions created by the war.  As he and their relationship get swept up in the events surrounding the coup, Ojuwku explore the effects of war from both protagonists’ point of view.

Izu Ojukwu is one of Nigeria’s most respected filmmakers.  A veteran of the popular film industry Nollywood, he is seen by many as pushing this film form to new technical and aesthetic levels.  This eagerly awaited film, five years in the making and shot on 16mm film, has just been released in Nigeria

Screening sponsored by Barnard College



  • 9:30AM: Mamadou Diouf (Director, Institute of African Studies)

Opening Comments

  • 9:45-10:00AM: Brian Larkin (Barnard College, Columbia University)
  • 10:00-10:15AM: Awam Ampka (New York University)

Panel I · 10:15AM-12:15PM

  • Alessandro Jedlowski (University of Liège) “Post-Imperial Affinities in Film Production: Discourses and Practices of Collaboration Between the Nigerian and the Indian Film Industries”
  • Anouk Batard (Sciences Po, Toulouse) “Nollywood practitioners and publics’ identifications: Social predispositions at work in the practices of this African popular culture”
  • Yomi Ogunsanya (Osun State University) “Swimming with the Tide: Yoruba Language Nollywood Filmmakers and Transnational Corporations”
  • Comments: Jonathan Haynes (Long Island University)

Lunch · 12:15-1:30PM

Panel II · 1:30-3:00PM

  • Akin Adesokan (Indiana University) “Yoruba Nollywood: Anatomies of a Marketing Category”
  • Carmen McCain (Kwara State University) “Kannywood Cycles Back to the Future: Celebrity, Cinema, Serials and the Search for a Global Audience”
  • Comments: Brian Larkin (Barnard College, Columbia University)

Coffee Break 3:00-3:15PM

Panel III · 3:15-4:45PM

  • Musa Ibrahim (Bayreuth University) “When Media, Popular Culture and Faith Cross Paths: Historical Analysis of Religious Censorship of Hausa Film in the Northern Nigerian Islamic Context”
  • Noah Tsika (Queens College, City University of New York) “On Archives Lost, Lacking, and Still to Come: Nollywood’s Material Heterogeneity”
  • Comments: Akin Adesokan (Indiana University)

Please click here for more information on this event.