African Film Distribution in the United States: Assessment and Prospective Analysis
Distribution remains one of the main challenges facing African cinema. Reaching domestic and international audiences is difficult despite the promise of digital technological innovations over the last fifteen years. In fact, scholarship on African film distribution in the United States is currently scarce and limited to a few contributions in articles. These articles have included “African Cinema in the American Video Market” by Cornelius Moore (1992); “La construction identitaire par le cinéma: diaspora africaine aux États-Unis” by Boukary Sawadogo (2017); “Evolving Nollywood Templates for Minor Transnational Film” by Moradewun Adejunmobi (2014); and Nollywood: The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres a monograph by Jonathan Haynes (2016). Yet, the distribution of African films in the United States should be the subject of more sustained scholarly attention, as the market is expanding with diverse African diasporic communities increasing in the country that is home to Hollywood. African films are distributed in North America through four channels: the festival circuit; independent distributors; informal circuits (pirated copies of DVDs sold in subway stations and African stores); and online platforms (Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, irokoTV, etc.). African cinema has to cultivate a niche in a market that is not only dominated by Hollywood big-budget productions but also where other films from around the world compete for visibility.