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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Benin Video-film: A Case for the Documentary Genre

  • Author(s): Omoera, Osakue Stevenson
  • et al.

Although Onions Edionwe’s films, such as Echoes of a Kingdom, Arousa N’ohuan-ren, and Aisiokuoba, are notable documentaries, they represent an “insignificant” component of the total number of movies that have been made in the Benin or Edo language film section of the Nigerian film culture (Nollywood). A critical review of the Benin video culture indicates that a majority of the Benin film content creators tend to ignore the documentary genre. This article explores the reasons Benin filmmakers do not produce documentaries. Perhaps, what evidences the tendency is the observable preference of Benin filmmakers to make historical, musical, comic, or social movies because they fear that the audience might find documentary films uninteresting and distasteful. This is an unpleasant trend in spite of documentary film’s potency as a narrative medium and its potentialities for developing the human-mind and society. It is against this background that I used a complementarity of the emic and etic approaches to canvass the need for Benin cineastes to increasingly turn their creative radars towards the documentary genre, which can be a powerful developer and re-enforcer of Benin socio-cultural practices in the age of globalisation. Towards this end, Benin filmmakers should be provided with requisite grants and/or production funds by relevant governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and organised private groups from within and outside the Benin locality to make films in the documentary format.

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