Feature: Nigerian movie enthusiasts thrilled by cultural expressions in Chinese movies

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-01 00:08:05|Editor: yan
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By Titilope Fadare and Olatunji Saliu

ABUJA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- When Salome Nuhu, a Nigerian content developer, craved a movie night recently, she did with a bowl of popcorn, a drink and a Chinese movie from her stash of movie collection. This, she did after a stressful day of content strategy and production.

Usually, Chinese movies keep Nuhu glued to the screen for long hours because of how the cast and crew attract and navigate viewers through their culture, which particularly fascinates her a lot.

"I enjoy the fact that they try so well to expose you to their culture. You are watching it and you are getting to know about the people, what they like and what they do not like. You have an idea about them at first glance," she told Xinhua during her break at work.

For most Nigerians, their first contact with the Chinese culture was in movies. It is not uncommon to see a Nigerian kid talking about Kung Fu or other important cultural values depicted in Chinese movies.

Subtitles are a turn-off for some local movie enthusiasts, but not for Nuhu while watching Chinese movies.

Seeing Chinese movies have changed her perception of life and also about the Chinese people and culture. This helped her to stop stereotyping but rather have an open mind and respect for diverse cultures.

"Shaolin Soccer", a 2001 sports comedy has remained Nuhu's favorite Chinese movie. It is from the movie that she learned and loved the communal lifestyle and conservative culture of the Chinese people, she said.

If she finds herself in China, Nuhu told Xinhua, that she would love to try dumplings, often seen in the movies.

On her own part, Oge Udegbunam, a Nigerian journalist, said she appreciates Chinese movies because they, among other positive ways, constantly portray their technology, growth rate, and, interestingly, their language.

"I like the idea of not speaking something else. They use their language. This is very interesting because it will push you to want to learn their language," Udegbunam told Xinhua in an interview. "Sometimes, I watch it without the subtitles and I still try to understand the plot of the story."

"Sometimes, they don't give subtitles so you just have to focus and figure it out," said the journalist.

A lot has changed for Udegbunam since she started watching Chinese movies at local cinemas, on her laptop, on cable television at home or some she received via sharing apps on her smartphone.

According to her, Chinese movies have helped develop her self-esteem and learning of the Chinese culture. "Chinese movies have taught me to be proud of who I am because they (the actors) are proud of who they are," she said, adding they also fired up her interest in Chinese food.

"I love the way they eat with their chopsticks. I first learned through the movies that the Chinese do not eat with forks, knives, and spoons," she said further.

Aliyu Momoh, an accountant, and Divine Tochukwu, an auditor, are both lovers of Chinese martial arts, Kung Fu and watch movies in that regard. The movements involved mesmerize them always.

The 2004 action-comedy "Kung Fu Hustle," developed after the commercial success of "Shaolin Soccer" is one of Momoh's favorite Chinese movies.

Like Nuhu and Udegbunam, Momoh also loves how Chinese movies promote their culture. "In Chinese movies, they promote their culture very well and it is not common in other professional movies," he said.

Tochukwu said right from childhood, he has continued to adore any movie where Chinese actor and martial artist Jet Li is featured.

On Oct. 1, 2019, despite a language barrier, Sheriffdeen Adewale was among several Nigerians who obviously could enjoy a Chinese blockbuster movie titled "My Country, My People." The movie was dedicated to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China last year.

"I have always seen movies as a way of telling stories, whether fictional or historical. I experienced good storytelling at its best -- Chinese stories told with such skill and dexterity. I almost had no need to read the English subtitles to be immersed in the stories," Adewale said of the movie which was aired to the Chinese community in Nigeria and interested Nigerians.

Of the stories told in "My Country, My People," the one that stood out to him was of a little boy who sacrificed his personal needs to ensure that his community had a good view of a volleyball match on an old black and white TV.

"It reminded me of my childhood. I have found myself in the same condition as this young boy, holding up a broken antenna while dangling on a precarious ledge," he said.

He urged Nigeria's movie industry, Nollywood, to learn from these Chinese movies with a patriotic theme.

"Patriotism and love for the motherland are important for a nation to grow," Adewale said.

"Nigeria can borrow a page from this kind of movies and there is a need to bring back stories from our past that once united us," he added.