While Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and The Passion of the Christ have generated talk of a Christian filmmaking renaissance in the United States, Nigerian Christians are actively contributing to the booming Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood.

Nollywood recently surpassed Hollywood in film production, according to a UNESCO survey released in May. The Lagos-based industry has existed for less than 20 years, yet produced 872 feature-length films in 2006, nearly twice Hollywood's 485 productions. (Both trailed India, which produced more than 1,000 films.)

Most Nigerian films, almost all of which are low-budget affairs shot on location and released on DVD, are spiritual in nature. About 20 percent are Christian, according to Obidike Okafor, an arts and culture reporter at Nigerian newspaper Next. Others champion Islam, animism and witchcraft, or simple morality.

The Christian-themed movies often aim at encouragement and evangelism more than sheer entertainment. Groups or churches often screen the films and follow them with discussions or an altar call.

"Nigerian movies are really watched," said Sunday Oguntola, religion reporter for Nigerian newspaper The Nation. "[People] like to watch stories. I rent an average of five movies every weekend to watch with my family."

Oguntola's Baptist church shows movies two or three times a month during the evening service. "People like to see life in movies," he said. "They can watch them for hours." Showing movies is usually more effective than preaching, and church leaders are capitalizing on that, he said.

The films are also a major part of witnessing in Nigeria, said Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University. "This is particularly good ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueNew & Noteworthy Books
New & Noteworthy Books Subscriber Access Only
Compiled by Matt Reynolds.
Also in this Issue
American Idols Subscriber Access Only
Tim Keller explains why money, sex, and power so easily capture our affections.
Current Issue
Reply All Subscriber Access Only
Responses to our March issue via letters, tweets, and Facebook posts.
RecommendedIn ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
In ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
Pure Flix's adaptation of the apologetics classic succeeds most where it preaches least.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
Nigeria: Christian Movie Capital of the World
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.