Here's something we didn't know yesterday,

But now we do today.

All thanks to a special event this week coming to Illinois State University and environs.

Since we proud Yanks doubtless assume that Hollywood's all-pervasive film output rules the world, here's the truth: India is the world's largest producer of filmed entertainment.

Which means, we're only No. 2?

Nope, not even that.

The second most prolific producer of filmed entertainment on earth is ... Nigeria.

Yes, Nigeria.

As a consequence, the West African nation has earned itself the title of "Nollywood," in deference to the India movie industry's being labeled as "Bollywood" (never mind that the term was coined solely as a glib reference to Hindi language cinema produced/based in the city of Mumbai, Maharashtra ... not the country as a whole).

"Nollywood is the second-largest film industry in the world," confirms Paul Ugor, an assistant professor of English at ISU who is coordinating a series of events Monday and Tuesday, all the better to enlighten us.

According to Ugor, Nollywood produces nearly 1,500 films annually vs. the average of 550 produced per year through Hollywood channels (that latter figure is per an estimate made two years ago by show business bible Variety). 

Nigeria's annual output is worth some $3.3 billion to its economy, says Ugor, who characterizes the evolution of Nollywood as "an incredible story of creativity." 

In short: "This is the story of how artists in West Africa are adapting global media technologies in creating indigenous art forms that allow them to talk to their local audiences about the things that matter to ordinary people."

As its centerpiece, the two-day ISU event will feature a visit by one of Nollywood's premier filmmakers, Femi Odugbemi, along with a mini-festival of his films.

Born 52 years ago in Lagos State in southwestern Nigeria, Odugbemi studied filmmaking at Montana State University before returning home to work in television, documentaries and features.

The ISU events, which are all free, kick off at noon Monday in Stevenson Hall 401, where guest speaker Jonathan Hayes, author of "The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres," will set the stage with a talk, "Trajectories of the Nigerian Film Industry."

At 3 p.m., Odugbemi will attend an exhibition of his own photography and a display of Nollywood film posters in ISU's University Galleries in the Uptown Station. There, he'll share stories of both the photos and his films.

At 7 p.m., the action moves to the Normal Theater, where Odugbemi's acclaimed romantic comedy, "Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story," will be screened. It's about what happens when a playboy from an affluent family meets a community volunteer in the city's worst slum. 

The director will attend the showing and participate in a post-screening discussion.

Tuesday's events begin at noon in Stevenson Hall 101, with a screening of Odugbemi's documentary, "MAKOKO: Futures Afloat," a look at the sprawling poverty-stricken fishing community adjacent to bustling Lagos.

At 5 p.m., a third Odugbemi film, "And the Chain Was Not Broken," will be screened in Capen Auditorium in Edwards Hall.

The film tells the story of Freedom Park in Lagos. Formerly Old Broad Street Prison, a symbol of colonial oppression, it has evolved into a place of peace, to contemplate and interact.

The week in arts

  • Treasures hunt: Yes, it's true. Time to start thinking creatively about holiday gift-giving. Two events this week are perfect enablers: the opening of the annual Holiday Treasures Exhibit and Sale, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the McLean County Arts Center; and the Around the Corner Art Walk in that gallery-heavy Center/Monroe/Main street nexus in downtown Bloomington, 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
  • Book ’em: It's a book-lover's movable feast this weekend, with two real page-turners at hand. The annual fall Books to Benefit Book Sale returns to B2B's location at the Crossroads Centre, 360 Wylie Drive, Normal, on Thursday (pre-sale), Friday-Saturday (regular sale) and Sunday (bag sale.) Also on Sunday is Bloomington Public Library's annual Local Authors Fair, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with 19 local scribes discussing and signing their books at stations around the library.
  • Mix masters: The BCAI School of Arts is back with the second edition of its Mix.Fuse.Evolve scholarship fundraiser, 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Reality Bites banquet hall in downtown Bloomington, with culinary delights, coffee/cash bars, entertainment and more. A concurrent event for the under-21 set, from 5:30 to 11 p.m., will be on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus. For more details, go to www.breakingchains116.wixsite.com.
  • Master's class: Martin Scorsese's deeply felt valentine to the origins of cinema magic, "Hugo," is this week's free Six-Week Film School offering at the Normal Theater, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Dan Craft is Pantagraph entertainment editor. He can be reached at 309-829-9000, Ext. 259 or via email at dcraft@pantagraph.com 

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