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Nollywood Babylon

The second docu by outsiders to appear in less than six months about Nigeria's exploding movie industry, Canadian duo Ben Addelman's and Samir Mallal's "Nollywood Babylon" is more consequential than the German "Peace Mission," especially in its unvarnished critique of Nollywood films as propaganda tools for Nigerian Christian evangelicals.

Cast:
With: Lancelot Imasuen, Odia Ofeimon, Onookome Okome, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Eddie Ugbomah, Helen Ukpabio.

The second docu by outsiders to appear in less than six months about Nigeria’s exploding movie industry, Canadian duo Ben Addelman’s and Samir Mallal’s “Nollywood Babylon” is more consequential than the German “Peace Mission,” especially in its unvarnished critique of Nollywood films as propaganda tools for Nigerian Christian evangelicals. The industry’s good (as a lively entrepreneurial force) and bad (as a medium for shoddy movies that have neither artistic merit nor a place in the mainstream international market) are given a fair hearing in this modest piece of reportage. Worldwide fest run looks assured, preceding Canuck and Euro tube dates.

Addelman and Mallal trace the shooting of “Bent Arrows,” the 157th film helmed by lively and bossy Lancelot Imasuen, to observe how a typical Nollywood production unfolds (answer: hectically and as speedily as possible), while inserting a rough overview of Nigeria’s recent history of civil wars, military governments and a distressed economic climate. Leading poet Odia Ofeimon provides the most trenchant critique of Nollywood as being used by activist Christian groups, while bluntly stating that, despite Nollywood’s prolific 20-movie-per-week output, “the great Nigerian film hasn’t been made.”

Nollywood Babylon

Canada

Production: An AM Pictures presentation, in association with the National Film Board of Canada. (International sales: the National Film Board of Canada, Toronto.) Produced by Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal, Adam Symansky. Executive producers, Galile Marion-Gauvin, Marcel Jean, Ravida Din. Directed, written by Ben Addelman, Samir Mallal.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Addelman, Mallal; editor, Annie Ilkow; music, Olivier Alary. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Jan. 27, 2009. (In Sundance festival -- World Cinema, competing.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With: With: Lancelot Imasuen, Odia Ofeimon, Onookome Okome, Bob-Manuel Udokwu, Eddie Ugbomah, Helen Ukpabio.

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