Chronicling the Rise of Nollywood in Speculative Fiction


If you are looking for the next big thing in cinema, look to Africa.

The Nollywood film industry originated in Nigeria during the birth of the silent film revolution in the early 1900s. Deep in the shadow of western media and Bollywood (India’s film industry) for decades, African filmmakers now are taking giant leaps into science fiction and fantasy using 21st Century digital tech. They are distributing their cinematographic entertainment to all digital platforms and no longer relying just on DVDs or VHS tapes. Their art is spreading throughout Africa and around the world via the Internet and cellphone technology.

Also, the quality and technical expertise of Nollywood filmmakers is rising. While today’s Hollywood producers may spend a half a billion dollars to create one superhero movie, African filmmakers are using a tiny fraction of a big-budget film to create dozens of international, award-worthy speculative fiction projects filled with sci-fi, magic, and other fantastic cultural elements from the Mother Continent and its children in the African Diaspora. The future of movie-making is being remolded on tiny electronic processors, cellphones and software, employing compelling stories and stunning performances with captivating musical scores. In 2013, Nigerian cinema was rated as the third most valuable film industry in the world based on its worth and revenues generated. It may soon become the most recognized and profitable digital entertainment in the world.

Your can start your journey with three Afro-centric speculative fiction films:

To Catch a Dream (2015) is written and directed by Jim Chuchu, It is a short film (13 minutes) about Ajuma — a grieving widow — who is desperate to stop recurring nightmares. In an effort to end them once and for all, she explores a fairy-tale remedy, which leads to frightening consequences. This very polished film presents Kenyan super model Ajuma Nasenyana and an impressive display of fashion and cinematography. It displays well on computer monitors and cellphones. See it at

Pumzi, written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu, screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Pumzi is reminiscent of the 1971 science fiction film, THX 1138, directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut. Pumzi tells the story of a botanist who risks everything to nurture a plant in an underground dystopia society where every resource is rationed and recycled. Model-turned-debutant-actress Kudzani Moswela plays the lead character, Asha, and delivers a stunning performance. Visit the website at

Robots of Brixton (2011) is a sci-fi animation by Bartlett School of Architecture graduate, Kibwe Tavares, in which a downtrodden robot workforce battles with police against a backdrop of dystopian architecture in scenes reminiscent of the 1981 Brixton riots in London where Black youth rioted because of poor living conditions. This highly artistic films hints at the creative animation vision of  Black filmmakers. See it at

The 2016 Africa Movie Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at a venue in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. The ceremony will recognize and honor excellence among directors, actors, and writers in the film industry. It will air live to more than 100 million viewers worldwide.


More to come in the Rise of Nollywood. Next: The New African Superheroes in graphic novels and animation.

Diverse Writers & Artists Of Speculative FIction

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