Nolly 2025 is an experimental DIY video art & Nollywood film project in collaboration between Swedish artists Sonia Hedstrand & Rut Karin Zettergren, and Nollywood actors Naomi Diamond, Patience Yisa, Jumoke Olayemi, Maryjane Ugochukwu Nwaeze, Ahmed Yusuf, Opeoluwa Adekanbi, Kamoru Oloyede & masscom doctor Ayotunde Alao. It was created during a workshop in Lagos in 2015 and recorded during 5 days on location in the suburb of Badore. The collaboration is a meeting between video art and Nollywood fiction film. Swedish video artists Hedstrand & Zettergren have worked for many years with low budgets for their adventurous projects. The main acressees in the film, Yisa, Diamond, Olayemi, Ugochukwu Nwaeze, Yusuf & Oloyede are trained in the Nollywood film industry, and their specific improvised and theatrical acting traditions, on location production methods, psychological intensity, narration where everyday realism meets supernatural traditional beliefs, and street distribution. The driving force behind the collaboration is to analyze and give form to how the fast changes taking place in global capitalism at this moment affects the cultural industry.

Still images from Nolly 2025

Nolly 2025Work in progress screening of Nolly 2025 at PS Lagos in January 2015
Behind the scenes of Nolly 2025, in the Lagos suburb Badore in January 2015

Since independence in 1960, the megacity of Lagos, Nigeria, is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world, and the biggest and richest city in Africa. The UN estimates that the city is the world’s third largest, after Tokyo and Mumbai. Nigeria has only been a democracy since 1999, The country’s revenue is dominated by the oil export. The largest employer in the country after the oil industry goes by the name of Nollywood. Nollywood was born in 1991 with the film Living in Bondage, and grew rapidly in the mid-90s, like the Swedish video art and documentary-film scene, Thanks to the new digital technology. In 2009, Nollywood passed Hollywood in terms of number of films produced per year, making the Nigerian film industry to the world’s second largest, after Bollywood. Here a movie is produced in a week or two, with a, relative to Hollywood, low budget, and is spread in hundreds of thousands of copies across Africa and the African Diaspora.

Nollywood films are not recorded in studio, but on location in apartments, offices or restaurants that are rented for a few hours. Dialogue is partially improvised. Focus is on dramatic stories, strong scripts and theatrical acting. The style comes from earlier decades of television dramas produced with theater actors. These in turn have their roots in the country’s rich oral narrative traditions, which has also been expressed through many famous writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The fact that black Nollywood actors in recent years has become great celebrities and role models throughout Africa and the African Diaspora implies a cultural shift from the past, when white American stars dominated global imagery. This change in pictorial prerogative, together with the bustling energy of a deveolping film industry, comparable to Hollywood in the 1910’s and 20’s, when talented women and other fortune-hunters took chances and risks in an environment not yet controlled by a few huge and dominant production companies, makes it very interesting from a perspective of moving images globally.

A collection of Nollywood film trailers
With support from: Kulturbryggan, Swedish Institute, Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse, Filmbasen and Gertrude och Ivar Philipsons Stiftelse.