Starting in the early 1990s, Nollywood (Nigeria’s vibrant film sector) has quickly gained worldwide relevance as the world’s second most prolific film industry (over 1,000 titles released each year) ahead of Hollywood and behind Bollywood with revenues topping $600 million annually. An entrepreneurial rags-to-riches story, its producers are private individuals getting little or no assistance from government who make and distribute film across the continent despite infrastructure deficiencies and barriers to trade.
In October, 2014 after over two decades away, critically acclaimed artist and style maven, Iké Udé returned to Lagos, Nigeria and took photos of 64 Nollywood personalities, capturing an impressive cross section of the industry including the legendary, screen icon, Genevieve Nnaji, established actor/director Stephanie Okereke and maverick filmmaker, Kunle Afolayan and as well as the next generation of rising stars.
The centrepiece of the body of work is The School of Nollywood, a grand group portrait of all 64 personalities. At once a reference to and departure from Rafael’s famous fresco, The School of Athens, 1509, the picture is the same size as its inspiration, an imposing 5 meters by 7.7 meters and will be unveiled at the prestigious Les Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles Photo Festival) on July 4, 2016 and will remain there till late September. Later in the year, the portraits will begin an international tour of museums and galleries, starting with the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago on October 20, 2016.