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Massive Nollywood bust in Brooklyn

My hometown is cracking down on pirated Nigerian films, the New York Times reports:  This week, officials seized more than 10,000 counterfeit DVDs from nine stores in Brooklyn in what prosecutors and representatives of the Nigerian film industry said would be a serious effort to regulate the trade of Nigerian films in the United States. ...

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

My hometown is cracking down on pirated Nigerian films, the New York Times reports

This week, officials seized more than 10,000 counterfeit DVDs from nine stores in Brooklyn in what prosecutors and representatives of the Nigerian film industry said would be a serious effort to regulate the trade of Nigerian films in the United States.

Calling the bootleggers "parasitic crooks," the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, promised Thursday that "people will go to jail," though his office announced no arrests.

The Nigerian film representatives said Brooklyn had become one of the largest Nollywood audiences outside of Africa, with the films becoming popular not just among African immigrants, but also among African-Americans and people from the Caribbean.[…]

Behind Mr. Hynes were several people who had reason to be pleased by the announcement, including Tony Abulu, the president of the United States-based Filmmakers Association of Nigeria, who said he had asked Mr. Hynes to act against the counterfeiters.

Painting the piracy as an act of national theft, Mr. Abulu said, "The sweat and blood of Africa, both on the continent and in the U.S., will not go to waste." He said that the police in the Bronx had also moved against counterfeiters, but not to the same extent.

In terms of sheer quantity, Nigeria surpassed the United States as the world’s largest film producer last year, cranking out nearly 900 straight-to-video feature productions per year. Other accounts put the number even higher. While the production quality still lags behind Bollywood and Hollywood, thanks to their snappy storytelling, univeral themes and high drama, these movies are clearly finding an international audience.

On the other hand, it’s a little rich for Abulu to be getting on his high horse about the "sweat and blood of Africa" spilling out onto Flatbush Avenue given the high level of piracy back home in Nigeria. By some estimates, as much as half of the industry’s revenue is lost due to its poor distribution network. Nollywood’s fans in Brooklyn are likely enjoying these films the same way audiences in Lagos do.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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