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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 19:39 GMT
Nollywood drought at Fespaco
By Umaru Fofana
BBC News, Ouagadougou

Nollywood production being filmed on the beach in Lagos
Nollywood movies are filmed on video tapes not 35mm

Nollywood film lovers at Fespaco, Africa's film festival under way in Burkina Faso, have been bemoaning the absence of Nigerian films from the big screen.

Ezra is the only Nigerian film being shown at Fespaco and its director Newton Aduaka is actually based in France.

This has prompted accusations that snobbery is to blame for their exclusion.

"You don't have Nollywood movies here because of the discrimination against the kind of movies that we do from those who package this festival," Nigerian filmmaker Mahmoud Alie Balogun said.

"They don't feel comfortable with what we do."

But the organisers deny any wrongdoing and say Nollywood movies do not meet their standards for the feature film category.

Nollywood DVD
Our style of telling stories is different to their style of telling stories
Mahmoud Alie Balogun
Nigerian filmmaker

"Our festival is for films. That means you have to bring films on 35mm and Nollywood usually makes movies on a video tape," Fespaco executive Baba Hamma says.

"But I do not think it is Nollywood's objective to come to our festivals."

By not subtitling Nollywood films, he explains, Nigeria's film industry is guilty of snubbing French-speaking countries.

Although apart from one feature film from Guinea, I have not seen a single French-language film subtitled during this year's festival.

Yet Mr Hamma claims there is no prejudice at play.

"We receive something like 500 movies and our capacity in the theatres we have in Ouagadougou is for about 200."

High drama

Mr Balogun cannot disagree more with Mr Hama's emphasis that Nollywood films do not meet Fespaco standards.

"What quality are they talking about? Are they saying that the entirety of movies from Nollywood are bad?

"Our style of telling stories is different to their style of telling stories."

Abubakar Sanogu, a Nigerian art student from Los Angeles, agrees that Nollywood films have not had the space they deserve at Fespaco, but admits that they still needed to be improved.

"Nollywood started as a result of the problems of accessing celluloid film - we wanted to make films but we didn't have the money to subscribe to the fundamentalism of the 35mm. So what do you do?"

Film goers in Ouagadougou need not despair however. Friday night's Fespaco schedule includes a 10-hour fest of high drama with back-to-back video screenings of Nollywood films.

It may sate them for now, but the debate as to what should be at Fespaco or not is bound to continue.

What do you think? Should more Nollywood films be shown at Fespaco? Send us your views using the form below.

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