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OPENS FEB. 5
Nigerian audiences may get to see Hotel Rwanda eventually, but the African stories that dominate local screens are homegrown and decidedly DIY. The country produces an astonishing 600 features a year, most of them straight-to-video releases made for a few thousand bucks apiece. The acting can be shaky, the scripts are underwritten, and—just a guess—the music rights not always cleared. But these movies are vital and timely, and they show Nigerians a world they recognize. As in films from Francophone Africa, emigration to the former colonial power is a recurring theme: The broadly comic Osuofia in London (Feb. 19) follows a high-pitched rube who travels to Britain to collect his rich brother’s estate and finds a country where the food is dubious, the women are uppity, and the shops won’t accept perfectly good Nigerian currency. The London Boy (Feb. 26) is a gangster/romance/culture-clash adventure about a young Nigerian villager who goes north for work and falls in love with a woman who’d prefer that no one know she’s an Ibo princess. The edgier, if hardly more lucid, Thunderbolt (Feb. 12) is an AIDS parable involving a woman whose jealous husband may have put a deadly sex-linked curse on her. The series opens with Behind Closed Doors (Feb. 5), an unpreviewable drama that looks at a family that’s disrupted by cancer. A warning to non-Nigerian viewers: The dialogue is mostly in English, but the accents can be thick, and subtitles are not provided. The series opens Saturday, Feb. 5, and runs through Saturday, Feb. 26 (all screenings are on Saturdays at 5 p.m.; see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)