Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Role of film in National Development

Written in September, 2006
Typed in June, 2008

Film is a unique means of communication; its visual bias gives it a universal appeal and impact. Film is the link between all the aspects or forms of literature –prose, poetry, short story and dram. Film plays important roles in the development of any groups of people, ethnicity, and race as a nation or country. It is a veritable tool of national development. One of the key areas in which perform this duty is in the realm of culture.

Film is a purveyor of culture. It helps to preserve the culture of a people from eroding away and this is a focus of implementation of the Nigerian National policy on film article
4(3) c, which states that “film will be produced to protect and promote our rich cultural heritage and our national aspirations in the process of development”. Culture is the totality of the ways of life of a group of people, nation or tribe including their food, costumes, dressing, music, marriage and burial practices etc and it is the bedrock of the essence of being of a people. Tunde Oladunjoye in an article in the Guardian Newspaper of Sunday April 18, 2004 titled: “Cannes Film Festival Knocks, Where is Nigeria?” retraced and emphasizes the role film plays in cultural promotion when he says “I am not aware of nay nation that has been able to achieve development without proactive promotion of its essential cultural components” and this is true because culture is an integral aspect of the life of a people. Much of the Americanization of the world (if I can use that word) is due to the fact that Hollywood movies emphasizes, promotes and projects the American people and nation in a form that most appeal to the viewer, thus from watching Hollywood movies the tendency to be American is developed and this is apparent in the way our youths dresses, the way they speak amongst other nuances.

The film industry is a big employer of labour in any economy. Film like any other aspect of the Theatre arts is a melting pot of all the arts-painting, costumes, writing; prose, drama, poetry, short story, acting, directing, producing, photography, tourism and so on.
According to an anonymous source, it takes a small village of people to make a movie. Film is a big art form that requires the involvement and participation of many people who are often employed as actors, costumiers, cameramen, producers, singers and aesthetic workers. In an article in the Sunday punch of 28th August, 2004, Yinka Ogundaisi, a major Yoruba film producer says that about N100 million goes into film production in Nollywood and about N1.2 Billion annually; the industry was valued at over N4 Billion in 2003. Film provides worthwhile employment for a lot of people; other people are employed in the downstream sector of the industry as marketers, video club owners, copyright and censorship officers etc.


More so film plays an important role in education and human resources development. Audio visual aids are now a significant element in teaching and knowledge impartation. Films are produced on different aspects of medicine, law, humanities etc. It is a very important in pre-school education; there are volumes of educational film materials for toddlers and small children, this is based on the premise that the human mind retain information more vividly what is heard and seen better than what is heard or read only. Educational film is a genre of film on its own. Furthermore documentary film helps to enlighten the public about events and phenomenon in the environment.

Film plays a vital role in social mobilization and information. Film is used to popularise government policies and ideologies amongst the masses. Owing to its ability to hold a captive audience films are used more than any other means of mass communication to promote ideas of positive social transformation as well as to consolidate and build new relationship between culture and national development for example, the National Orientation Agency and the Ministry of Information and Culture uses films to promulgate awareness on issues such as the HIV/AIDS endemic, anti-corruption, poverty alleviation, etc.

Film also help to inspire and develop a nation’s population through the adoption of themes which emphasize the desirable rather than the negative aspect of present social existence and the projection of heroes and heroine that refuse to get involved in the ills and evil around them.

Film serves entertainment and therapeutic purposes. The feature and animated films are chiefly made to entertain the viewer and also help him or her relax. Madagascar, the Matrix Parts I-III, Titanic, Gods Must Be Crazy are produced to help the audience relax and give off tension.

It is a tool of national mobilization, unity, a sign of national autonomy and a means of the preservation of heritage and sovereignty.

Film is a gizmo of research as in the case of archival and library materials. Reel tapes of national events like the Independence Day, First Visit of Queen Elizabeth to Nigeria, the Declaration of Independence, June 12 Presidential election, the official handover from Military rule to Democratic Governance in 1999.

Film is a propaganda device. Established and successful film theorist and filmmaker, Sergei Milkahovich Eisenstein (1898-1948) used films to lobby for the public to accept the regime of Josef Stalin who was the President of the Soviet Union in the deformed USSR. Lisa Reinfanhel also used film that projected the Nazist regime of Adolf Hitler has been the best form of government in the world.

Film is an art form that appeals to the senses of beauty and aesthetics. It combines all the arts of editing, costume, make up, lighting, dance, drama (writing), directing and producing to make it statements.

2 comments:

Nkechi said...

Great analysis of the role of film in National development. Nigerian movie industry or Nollywood as it is popularly called is obviously not contrinuting as it should be, what are the causes and what can be done to remedy the situation?

Jason Norin said...

Film is a form of mass communication that caters to individuals who wants to temporarily remove themselves from the reality. Just as businesses prioritize having a 1800 Number for communication purposes, private individuals need to exploit different communication tools to stay sane. :)