Nollywood. Nigerian filmmakers have churned out thousands of movies — many produced with just a few thousand dollars and one digital camera — since the late 1990s.

Nollywood films won fans across English-speaking Africa, but South Africa is chipping away at its dominance, industry leaders say.

For the past two decades, South Africa has hosted major Hollywood studios drawn to its highly skilled workers and government-issued rebate on all production costs spent in the country.

Cape Town’s streets were transformed into Islamabad for the fourth season of Homeland; studios constructed models of Robben Island for “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom;” and crews flew helicopters, crashed cars and set off massive explosions in downtown Johannesburg for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Of the roughly 400 films made in South Africa between 2008 and 2014, nearly 40 percent were foreign productions, according to the National Film and Video Foundation, a government agency.

“Blood Psalms,” a series for Showmax, employs massive sets reminiscent of “Game of Thrones,” green screens to concoct magical powers, and elaborate costumes of armor and golden crowns.

Inside an editing suite in Johannesburg one recent morning, Mr. Qubeka chatted with an editor slicing together shots for the show, about a queen battling a world-ending prophecy — a plot drawn from African mythology.

“The true revolution,” Mr. Qubeka said, “is that we as South Africans are being sought out for our perspective and our ideas.”

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U.S. Economy’s Strong Start Signals a Stellar Year

Consumers shook off the pandemic blues as 2021 began, putting stimulus checks to work buying cars and other goods and helping set the stage for what could be the fastest economic growth in decades.

The initial reading on the country’s first-quarter economic performance, delivered Thursday by the Commerce Department, showed that much remained far from normal. Even with a big jump in personal income, there was only a modest increase in spending on services like travel, dining and even health care.

But economists say that is already changing as more vaccinations are delivered and coronavirus-related business restrictions are eased. With better weather, savings accumulated during a long year of lockdowns, and an itch to make up for forced inactivity, Americans will have plenty of reasons to go out and spend.

“Consumers are now back in the driver’s seat when it comes to economic activity, and that’s the way we like it,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “A consumer that is feeling confident about the outlook will generally spend more freely.”

the first-quarter growth rate was 6.4 percent.

profit more than tripled last quarter to over $8 billion, while sales jumped 44 percent to $108.5 billion.

One striking aspect of the quarter’s economic activity was spending on motor vehicles and parts, which increased by almost 13 percent from the previous three months. Strong consumer demand and tight inventories drove prices higher.

Low interest rates, readily available credit, rising home values and stock prices, and strong trade-in values for used models are also easing the path for consumers.

At AutoNation, the country’s largest dealership chain, many vehicles are being sold near or at sticker price even before they arrive from the factory. “These vehicles are coming in and going right out,” said Mike Jackson, the chief executive.

Even if economic output is back to where it was before last year, as Mr. Daco estimates, it is short of where it would be without the pandemic. What’s more, economists say it is likely to take until sometime next year for employment to regain the ground it lost as a result of the pandemic.

unemployment rate for high school graduates was 6.7 percent in March, while it stands at 3.7 percent for Americans who hold a college degree. Members of minority groups have also suffered heavily, with the jobless rate for Black Americans at 9.6 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for whites.

Still, hiring does seem to be catching up. Last month, employers added 916,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, while initial claims for unemployment benefits have dropped sharply in recent weeks. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits had fallen to the lowest level of the pandemic for the third consecutive week.

Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm in Chicago, said: “It’s the best job market I’ve seen in 25 years. We have 50 percent more openings now than we did pre-Covid.”

Hiring is stronger for junior to midlevel positions, he said, with strong demand for professionals in accounting, financing, marketing and sales, among other areas. “Companies are building up their back-office support and supply chains,” he said. “I think we’re good for at least 18 months to two years.”

Ample savings and rising consumer optimism are giving businesses the confidence to bet on the future as well. Business investment rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter and surpassed its prepandemic level. Residential construction spending rose 2.6 percent.

Economic growth would have been even stronger had it not been for a fall in inventories, said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. Supply chain constraints and shortages of parts like semiconductors are causing halts in production, he said, most notably in the automobile sector.

That should ease in the months ahead, he added, especially as businesses take their cue from more bullish consumers.

“We’re at the opening stages of what could be a very strong six to nine months for the U.S. economy as it emerges from the pandemic,” he said. “The best is still yet to come.”

Ben Casselman, Neal E. Boudette and Sydney Ember contributed reporting.

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U.N. Panel Calls British Report on Race a Repackaging of ‘Tropes’

GENEVA — United Nations human rights experts on Monday issued a devastating critique of a report on race published last month by the British government, accusing its authors of repackaging racist tropes, distorting history and normalizing white supremacy.

“In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent,” the U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said in a statement that was endorsed by another U.N. expert monitoring contemporary forms of racism.

The British report, which was commissioned by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to the outpouring of protest that followed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, concluded that Britain did not suffer from institutional racism and instead offered “a model for other white-majority countries.”

Racism still existed but discrimination in Britain, it argued, was more a result of socio-economic inequities than skin color.

The five-member United Nations panel, chaired by an American attorney and rights activist, Dominique Day, and including human rights experts from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, said the report drew on dubious evidence to rationalize white supremacy and ignored the findings of other United Nations panels and human rights experts.

It agreed that racial disparities may not always stem from racism or racial discrimination, but asserted “there is also compelling evidence that the roots of these disparities lie in institutional racism and structural discrimination as they clearly do not reflect the preferences or priorities of the communities facing structural disadvantage.”

The panel urged the British government to categorically reject the findings of its commission, warning that its historical distortions and falsehoods “may license further racism, the promotion of negative racial stereotypes, and racial discrimination.”

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