EntertainmentArts & Culture

Countries you didn’t know had impressive film industries

Film has become a dominant medium for sharing culture and telling stories in the modern world. This is seen in the overwhelming influence that Hollywood and the Los Angeles film industry has had on cultures around the globe, bringing in revenues of $10 billion dollars a year. However, Hollywood’s massive distribution networks that get its films in front of audiences around the globe can steamroll smaller movie industries in other nations.

There are many important film studios and communities around the world. Japan’s animated works are celebrated worldwide; Germany and China have celebrated big-budget film studios; France hosts the Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious film festival in the world; and England’s Pinewood studio gave the world James Bond. However, there are thriving film communities in places you may not expect. Here are four countries that you wouldn’t have guessed had thriving film industries.

Nigeria

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Sometimes referred to as Nollywood, Nigeria produces the second greatest number of films of any country in the world. In 2006, Nigeria produced as many as 50 movies every single week. The only organization in Nigeria that is bigger than the film industry is the government.

Most of the movies made in Nigeria are straight-to-DVD features that are shot in English to help them reach a wider audience. They are enjoyed domestically by Nigerians and exported to nearby African nations such as Ghana.

If you are interested in learning more about the Nigerian film industry, you might want to check out the great documentaries This Is Nollywood and Welcome To Nollywood. If you are ready to see Nollywood in action, check out 30 Days in Atlanta, the highest grossing Nollywood film or 93 Days, starring Danny Glover.

India

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You probably were aware that India has a strong film industry. In America we refer to films from India as being from Bollywood. But what you probably didn’t know is that India’s movie culture is more prolific and much more diverse than the United States’s, and Bollywood refers only to one small portion of the Indian film industry — the productions from Mumbai that are filmed in Hindi.

There are nine major film producing regions in India that make movies in 16 different languages. The film industry of Chemail is known as Kollywood, and the film community in Bangalore is called Sandalwood.

Most Indian films are lighthearted, upbeat and typically stick close to a family-friendly tone. There is still a good deal of censorship active in the Indian film industry that attempts to maintain a standard of wholesomeness in the industry. If you would like to see some of the best Bollywood films check out 3 Idiots, a coming-of-age story about three young men in college; Munna Bhai M.B.B.S., a comedy about a medical student; or the 1975 action classic Sholay.

Canada

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Canada has three major centers for film: Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto. The Canadian film industry is heavily supported by government subsidies and programs, and the results speak for themselves. The National Film Board of Canada has more Academy Awards than almost any other organization.

However, Canada’s proximity to the Los Angeles film industry tends to overshadow the Canadian film industry’s contribution. In fact, the nickname for the Canadian film industry is Hollywood North. Famous filmmakers such as James Cameron and David Cronenberg got their start in Canada but were quickly sought after by the larger, wealthy studios in California.

Canada still puts out wonderful films, however. Room is a Canadian film that was nominated for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards (and won the trophy for Best Actress), and few people realize that classic comedies like Porky’s and Meatballs are entirely Canadian productions.

South Korea

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South Korea’s film industry didn’t really get on its feet until the release of the 1999 classic Shiri. The critical and commercial success of this film sparked a revolution in the South Korean film industry and inspired the government to encourage consumption of domestically-produced films over imports from America.

In fact, it is the law in South Korea that 40 percent of movies shown at a theatre must be of domestic origin. South Korean films aren't just popular in South Korea, however. They are one of the primary sources of entertainment heading into China, Japan and the rest of Southeast Asia.