The Nollywood industry which came to life in the early 1990s is often seen as a natural heir to the Nigerian TV series which had already produced roughly 14,000 feature films in the previous decade. These video films of the early years have now become full feature films and an integral part of popular life in Nigeria. Local audiences appreciate these homegrown productions relating to daily life in the country.
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The films – about 1,000 are produced a year – offer a mix of urban scenes and village encounters. They appeal to both young people and to families, reaching out to local audiences in several Nigerian languages. The films are mainly produced in the big cities in the south of the country such as Lagos, Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Ibadan or Calabar, though they are usually set in Lagos or Abuja and involve crews and actors from various ethnic backgrounds.
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While Yoruba and Hausa filmmakers have opted for productions foregrounding their respective languages, statistics show that the number of films in Igbo, the language most commonly spoken in Eastern Nigeria, has been infinitesimal. Most of the films emanating from Igboland are in Nigerian English, a choice which has allowed them to reach out to wider audiences in other parts of the country and abroad. This has made them an instant hit and projected Nollywood on the international scene.
The number of films produced in other Nigerian languages such as Esan, Edo (Bini), Urhobo, Ijo, Hausa and Ogba has equally gained momentum.