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Christianity, Witchcraft, and the Movies

Mix 'em all up, and you've got the fast-growing Nigerian film industry

Did you know that Nigeria cranks out 2,500 films per year? Or that most of them are made for less than $10,000? Neither did I. But those are among the statistics we learn about the growing "Nollywood" film industry, as depicted in the documentary Nollywood Babylon.

The film's fascinating trailer (at the end of this post) depicts a director laying hands on a camera and praying over it "in the name of Jesus Christ." One interviewee states that "the films have been taken over by born-again Christianity. . . . Nollywood has become the voice of Africa." Another says, "In a country like this, if you don't have Jesus, you can't survive."

Several media outlets have reviewed the film recently. The Times-Picayunenotes that the low-budget films are "built around melodrama and cheeseball special effects." The Epoch Times writes that Nigeria "is a country where many share both an evangelical Christian faith and a lingering fear of witchcraft. If you think such an environment could produce fascinating cinema, you would be correct." And The New York Times writes, "The documentary concludes with a provocative, if shallow, examination of the impact of evangelical Christianity on Nigerian movies," and adds, "for all its limitations, “Nollywood Babylon” serves as an intriguing primer."

Watch the trailer here:

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