While Hollywood’s interest in Africa continues unabated, African helmers are making a concerted effort to get their own stories out to the world. Chief among these are Nigerian helmers keen to break away from the straight-to-video model of local filmmaking.
Nigerian helmer Jeta Amata’s “The Amazing Grace” — about how British slave trader John Newton’s voyage to Nigeria in 1748 led to him writing the famous hymn — has become the country’s biggest-ever hit since its release last October.
The Nigerian film industry, dubbed Nollywood, produces up to 1,200 pics a year, although these tend to be ultra-low budget exploitation pics. Amata’s film, boasting an unheard-of $400,000 budget, is the first Nollywood feature to be released theatrically in the country since 1979. With admissions of some 25,000 people, the pic earned nearly double the gross of previous box office champ “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” . . .
Amata has sold North America rights for film to U.S. distrib Rock City. . . .
Amata’s film stands in contrast to Brit helmer Michael Apted’s similarly titled “Amazing Grace,” about the abolition of slavery in the British empire, which also featured the real-life figure of John Newton. . . .
Hmmm, I wonder if that other movie about John Newton, The Heart of Man, is still in the works.