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Nollywoood awards the industry's best

posted 14 Nov 2011, 06:14 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 14 Nov 2011, 06:14 ]

The BON or Best of Nollywood awards, Nigeria's version of the Oscars, awards the country's top talents and recognizes the growth of Africa's largest movie industry.

LAGOS, NIGERIA (NOVEMBER 11, 2011) (REUTERS) - The Best of Nollywood awards held in Lagos on Friday (November 11) honored some of Nigeria's movie industry's top talents in an event that is eagerly anticipated every year -- much like the Oscars in Hollywood.

Also known as BON awards, the event recognizes categories like best actor and best actress in English movies, best actor and best actress in Yoruba movies and best sound track among others including best kiss in a Nigerian movie.

The movie "Two brides and a baby" produced by Blessing Egbe, won the movie of the year and also best sound track. It is due to be released in cinemas in Nigeria on November 25.

"I am so excited standing here and collecting this for best sound. Sound is a difficult part of production in Nollywood, we know that," Egbe said when she recieved her award.

According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Nigeria ranks second in the world after India's Bollywood with the number of video movies produced per year, overtaking America's Hollywood.

But Nollywood productions have long been criticized for their poor audio and picture quality and lack of direction.

Early this year, Nigerian movies were outshined by features from Congo, Ghana and South Africa at the Africa Academy Movie Awards held in the Niger Delta. Top Nigerian actors and actresses also did not win any awards.

Nollywood producers and directors say they have been forced to go back to the drawing board and reinvent the industry's image.

"We are growing and we getting better each day, a lot of good movies coming up, a lot of brilliant producers, directors, actors and actresses, so I mean it is a growing industry and we are doing quite well I must say," said Chelsea Eze, an actress.

Some industry players are eyeing wider recognition, with several localy produced films being released for foreign audiences.

"We are crossing the line, going the extra mile, going abroad, so we actually shoot movies not only for Nollywood now, we shoot movies for Hollywood and we hope in the future we get to be nominated for Oscars and... you know, other awards," said Susan Peters, another actress.

But analysts say, Nollywood's growth is hit hardest by rampant piracy. The local market is flooded with millions of cheap copies from which revenue does not go back into the industry.

London based Nigerian film maker Obi Emelonye, famous for his production, "Mirror Boy" says the problem of piracy is universal but in Nigeria it could be curbed if there were streamlined distribution channels.

"The pirates, they exist everywhere, they exist in the UK, they exist in hollywood and yet the industry survives in spite of them The reason they are thriving so much in Nigeria and they are kind of almost killing productions in Nigeria is because our distribution network, our distribution system is fundamentally flawed," he said.

Despite limited government funding and support many Nollywood movie makers say that their priority now is to transform the industry in order to compete internationally.

Experts say, Nollywood employs millions of youths and its expansion would only mean more jobs for Nigerians.