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Sundance 2009: “Nollywood Babylon.”

Sundance 2009: “Nollywood Babylon.” (photo)

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Nollywood, the subject of the solid Canadian documentary “Nollywood Babylon,” is Nigeria’s homegrown movie industry. The world’s third largest after the -woods Holly and Bolly, it’s the source of hundreds of movies annually, all shot quickly, cheaply and digitally, all released directly to DVD or VCD (outbursts of public violence made theaters less than appealing). Nollywood cinema is, by definition, popular cinema — funded by investors or the filmmakers themselves, the features are calculated to give the people what they want, crowdpleasers, melodramas, crime stories, tales of religious redemption, broad comedies, all designed to recoup cash. “Africans telling African stories,” as one girl puts it.

Basically, for the type of person who predicts the death of film due to new technology or to commercial pressures, “Nollywood Babylon” could be seen as an ominous vision of the future. “The great Nigerian film has not yet been made,” explains one interviewee, a poet, because no one in Nollywood is trying to make a great film; they’re trying to make entertainment and a profit. And the films are enormously popular, outselling any imports while being tailored to their intended market to the point of being largely unexportable themselves. Who needs global fame, anyway? “The business of filmmaking is about making money and making statements” declares Lancelot Imasuen, the prolific director who over the course of the documentary shoots his 157th feature, “Bent Arrows,” decrying the festival system as being the host to films that are screened and then never seen by a larger audience, much less the masses that take in his work.

Cut together from talking head interviews, historical background, clips, Lagos footage and a look at the production of “Bent Arrows,” “Nollywood Babylon” is stylistically standard, but cheers to filmmakers Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal for going beyond a look at Lagos as the Wild West of cinema to offer unexpected insights, not always sunny, into the economic and social forces that created and continue to sustain Nollywood.

“Nollywood Babylon” currently has no U.S. distribution. See all of’s Sundance coverage here.

[Photo: “Nollywood Babylon,” National Film Board of Canada, 2008]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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