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iREP 2017

Theme: ARCHIVING AFRICA

Date: March 16-19

Venue: Freedom Park, Lagos

Thematic Notes: Africa has always been faced with a major challenge of connecting the dots in its historical past. A large part of what constitute the verifiable history of Africa’s past today is sourced from the west. The facts of our historical journey are told to us by western imperialists and we simply regurgitate what is made available to us. In an age when even technology looking forward into the past to understand what is most valuable to our humanity, many African societies are shrouded in a blanket of collective amnesia. Decades after the last of colonized society in Africa has gained independence, the legacy of European dominance remains – we must recourse to Europe to peep a glimpse of African history and cultural properties because they are mostly domiciled outside of the continent. Our history is ours in bits that is allowed to us from the West! Documentary/documentation films must respond to this, if it must by any chance, put a stop to the tragedy of forgetfulness in Africa. Storytelling is essential to nation building; each cultural property that is locked away in archives and museums in Europe is a repository of our history, journey and insights into what we can become. Conceived on the traditional thematic framework of Africa in Self-Conversation, the IREP Film festival 2017 will rigorously explore the opportunities open to Africa to bring its historic past into an archival system that is accessible on demand, and most importantly, how we can begin to use these materials to define a path for the future through storytelling. In distilling the theme, “ARCHIVING AFRICA,” we intend to focus on the core issues of RESEARCH, PRESERVATION, DIGITIZATION, LICENSING AND RIGHTS and DIGITAL REPATRIATION. The 2017 edition of IREP Film Festival promises to be four days of over 40 documentary film screenings, insightful panel discussions, training and workshop, and networking with guests attendance from countries like Germany, United States, South Africa, Egypt, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon etc.   GUEST OF HONOUR Our guest of Honour will be the Egyptian/South African filmmaker, JIHAN EL-TAHRI. We plan to have a special highlight of her films: CUBA – An African Odyssey, Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs and Behind the Rainbow. Each film will have a special screening and an extensive session of  “JIHAN IN CONVERSATION” where she will be talking about how she builds her stories around archival resources.  PROFILE Jihan-Angola-Shoot-guestJihan El Tahri is an award winning director, writer, producer and visual artist. She is an Egyptian and French http://www.besttramadolonlinestore.com national, who started her career as a Foreign Correspondent covering Middle East Politics. In 1990 she began directing and producing documentaries for the BBC, PBS, Arte and other international broadcasters. Since then she has produced and directed numerous documentaries, her most recent is  “Nasser” part of this year’s official selection at Toronto International Festival. She has also Produced and directed the acclaimed documentaries “Behind the Rainbow”, “ Cuba, an African Odyssey”, as well as the Emmy nominated House of Saud.  Her writings include “Les Sept Vies de Yasser Arafat” (Grasset) and “Israel and the Arabs, The 50 Years war” (Penguin). El-Tahri is also engaged in various associations and institutions working with African cinema. She has served as treasurer of the Guild of African Filmmakers in the Diaspora, Regional Secretary of the Federation of Pan African Cinema (FEPACI) and as an Advisor on Focus Feature’s Africa first Program. She is also a Mentor at the Documentary Campus El-Tahri started her working career as a journalist. Between 1984 and 1990 she worked as a news agency correspondent and TV researcher covering Middle East politics. In 1990 she began directing and producing documentaries for French television, the BBC, PBS and other international broadcasters. Since then she has directed more than a dozen films including the Emmy nominated The House of Saud, which explores the Saudi/US relations through the portraits of the Kingdom’s monarchs. The Price of Aid, which won the European Media prize in 2004, examined who really benefits from the system of International Food Aid. Cuba: An African Odyssey, which recounts the untold story of Cuba’s support for African revolutions, has received multiple International awards. Her most recent feature documentary Behind the Rainbow, which examines the transitional process in South Africa, has been released in 2009 and has since won various prizes. She is currently finalizing a 3 hour documentary provisionally titled Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs. El-Tahri has also written two books, The 9 Lives of Yasser Arafat and Israel and the Arabs: the 50 Years War published by Penguin. Jihan El-Tahri is also engaged in various associations and institutions working with African cinema. She has served as treasurer of the Guild of African Filmmakers in the Diaspora, Regional Secretary of the Federation of Pan African Cinema (FEPACI) and as an Advisor on Focus Feature’s Africa first Program. She is currently a Mentor at the Documentary Campus.
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In its sixth year running, IREP Documentary Film Festival is undoubtedly emerging as the biggest film festival in sub-Saharan Africa.  The widely acclaimed artistic fair is pivoted on the thrust “Africa in Self Conversation”, a phenomenon that seeks to represent the African cinematic experience to a global audience, while also translating and provoking a pragmatic discourse to invigorate the needed appetite for the hungered positivism on the continent. “The wonderful thing about the documentary film art form is that primarily, it causes you to think. Whatever the subject matter of any documentary you watch; it changes you”, says Femi Odugbemi – the multiple-awarding film-maker who doubles as the Executive director of the festival. This assertion must have inspired the theme of this year’s festival, themed # Change: Documentary Film as Agent Provocateur. Perhaps, on sighting the theme many would have thought it was a puppetry of politicking. But it turned out not to be so. Rather, it was set to put the minds of audience, especially Africans, in the right perspective for the mental revolution that would evoke the right change across the continent in the face of the present economic malady, political upheavals and religious subversion. IMG_9728 Over thirty films were screened at four different venues, namely: Freedom Park (Lagos Island), Afrinolly Space (Oregun), Goethe Institut (City Hall) and the Nigerian Film Society (Ikoyi), as a way to effectually avail all and sundry a feel of the festival irrespective of time and space. Each of the films was painstakingly selected to exemplify the intricacy of the thematic value. Amongst the selected films are: Negritude: A Dialogue between Soyinka and Senghor by Prof. Manthia Diawara, which cross-examined the conceived ideas of these two doyens of Pan-Africanism in relation to the struggle for Independence http://www.mindanews.com/buy-accutane/ that vogued the 50s and 60s vis-a-vis the cobwebs of multiculturalism and religious intolerance that plagues the African community today. Ota Benga, a film by Prof Niyi Coker, expressed shock over the trails of the white supremacists’ aversion to a kidnapped black man whose  name doubles as the title and insidiously placing him amongst the lesser mammals in a bid to establish Darwin’s theory of evolution. The tragic epic also explores the continuous imperialist manacle of low esteem of the African race. Faaji Agba by Remi Vaughan Richards and The Revolution will not be televised by Kim Bartley, Donnacha O’Briain are amongst the screened films. The official launching of the Irep Film Foundation by Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, who himself is an art enthusiast, added a feather to the festival’s resolve at qualitative film delivery and professionalism, believing  in the power of apt synergy. The three day of glitz and glamour, sights and sounds ended with an art stampede by the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), where the prospects and challenges experienced by artists were broadly expounded citing possible panacea to the highlighted pitfalls which inter-alia include: Lack of political will, insecurity of the artists in the face of conflicting interests, restricted freedom, low patronage by the teeming masses, lack of coordinated direction due to absence of working cultural policy. On a final note, the 2016 iREP film festival may have come and gone but not without achieving the aim of the organizers which was to bring to the notice of the world, the capability of Nigerians and indeed Africans to write our story and document our history in the most acceptable manner for everyone who cares to know.
  • Babatunde Odubanwo
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IREP 2016 was featured on TheNation yesterday, 13th April. See extract below: Viewers were spellbound by powers of documentary films during the Sixth iRepresent (iRep) International Documentary Film Festival at the Freedom Park, Lagos. The event was themed#Change: Documentary Films as Agent Provocateur. Over 30 select films were screened. It was a fest of documentary films that explored its theme from an angle quite dissimilar from its erstwhile detached slant. Executive director/co-founder of Foundation for Development of Documentary Film in Africa, organisers of the iRep Film Festival, Femi Odugbemi said: “This year’s IREP festival comes at a time when it is most important to take the African storytelling experience to a new level of reckoning and celebration. The dimension of documentary as a tool for deepening experiences and mediating history makes it a powerful tool to unpack what we need to grow our nascent democracies.” He described documentary films as a means of expression, probably as an alternative to or a partner with art, noting that “there is a need to find an outlet to document the “truths” of our experiences for historical purposes and hopefully, the negative chapters of that history, when documented in powerful narratives, will be slow to repeat itself. Documentary today must be about engineering open and more vibrant democracies”. In her keynote address, Jane Mote who spoke on Documentary as Agent Provocateur at the film festival, said: “We have a responsibility to document the world honestly and to ask the questions that get us nearer to the truth. I passionately believe everyone should own their own stories”. Mote is media consultant for TV channels and digital media companies including Discovery, BBC Worldwide, London Live, The Africa Channel and One World Media She expressed her belief in documentaries as a real opportunity for people to take control of their stories to define their cultures. Meanwhile, four documentaries were screened at the opening and the first was Kenya: A Guidebook to Impunity, a 62-minute documentary by Maina Kiai. The documentary, which was about the Kenyan election that saw Uhuru Kenyatta become Kenya’s president. It is a deconstructive exposé on the election that had extraordinary consequences in Kenya. Reviewing the film, Dare Dan said: “It takes us from the grassroots to the apex of how things went down through the eyes of locals, rape victims, and those who lost limbs, property and loved ones.” Also on the menu were HID Awolowo; The Legend, The Legacy by Dare Akpata, Negritude: A Dialogue between Senghor and Soyinka. These documentaries, as their titles readily imply, discuss the deceased wife of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the well-known ideological differences between Professor Wole Soyinka and former Senegalese president, Sedar Senghor. The Democrats by Camilla Neilsson is probably most engaging of all. A 100-minute documentary shot in politically unstable Zimbabwe where a new constitution was being put together by the ruling party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF and the divided opposition party, MDC. It invites the audience to observe the entire process a la motion picture. Reviewing the film, Agnes Atsuah said: “Any documentary, short film and such about Zimbabwe and her 30-plus years under the dictatorship of her president Robert Mugabe is bound to draw considerable interest and this 100-minute documentary is no exception. From the opening archival scenes where a small look into Zimbabwe’s past state of affairs is shown to the almost flawless transition to the film itself, it is almost impossible not to be drawn in.” On the pace of the film, she said: “Pacing is done almost perfectly as each scene seems on the verge of an impending, inevitable finale of the failed system that the two often warring political parties so desperately tried to put into place. Desperation, frustration, disappointment and laudable hope are major emotions that mostly close-up shots translate so well.” Among the guests present at the opening included Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka; veteran filmmaker, Tunde Kelani as well as other scholars and film enthusiasts.
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IREP 2016 was featured on ThisDay last week. See extract on IREP below: For the sixth year running and again in the month of March, the iREPRESENT Film Forum produced another iREPRESENT (iREP) International Documentary Film Festival. And from all accounts it was a very productive and successful outing. What with the array of experts from around the world that were in attendance as guests. The film entries were quite bountiful too. Considering that from a modest ten entries or less at inception in 2010, this year’s edition of iREP had well over a hundred entries from local and international participants. And there were guests and resource persons from different parts of the world too including Prof Awam Amkpa, Jane Mote, Prof Niyi Coker, Onye Ubanatu, Barbara Off, Julian Reich, Madeleine Dallmeyer, Barbel Mauch and others. The 2016 edition of iREP held under the theme: ‘Change…Documentary Films as Agent Provocateur’. Expectedly, films were screened at different centres all over Lagos beginning from the Freedom Park ‘base’ of iREP. Also following through on one of its objectives of ‘providing an intense learning environment for young and aspiring film makers’, the festival held ‘hands on and skills development workshops’ in the course of four days between March 24 – March 27. And of course, having continuous conversations is one of the things iREP has sought to promote. Manthia Diawara under the segment ‘In Conversation’ talked about Trends in African documentary; Steve Markovitz (South Africa) spoke on Documentary Funding while Andy Jones (UK)dealt with the Pitching. Onye Ubanatu on the hand spoke on ‘Doing More With Less: Introduction to Guerilla Film-making.’ And the big discussion coordinated by the Committee For Relevant Art the CORA Stampede titled ‘Change…Documentary and Creative Freedom.’ Faaji Agba as festival special Many films leapt out at one from the iREP 2016 line up. You had titles like ‘Am I Too African To Be American Or Too American To Be African’ (Nadia Sasso), ‘I Shot Bi Kidude’ (Andy Jones), ‘My Big Nigerian http://www.mindanews.com/buy-ventolin/ Wedding’ (Ekene Som Mekwunye), ‘Obama Mama’ (Vivian Norris), ‘Negritude: A Dialogue Between Soyinka and Senghor’ (Manthia Diawara), ‘The Revolution Won’t Be Televised’ (Kim Bartley, Donnacha O’Briain). Nonetheless, ‘Faaji Agba’, by Remi Vaughan Richard the festival special was also winner Best Documentary, AMVCA 2016. Faaji Agba, from 2009 to 2011, followed seven musicians aged between 68-85 years around Lagos: Fatai Rolling Dollar, Alaba Pedro, SF Olowookere, Ayinde Barrister. and others. Most of them were no longer active in the music industry but were brought together by Kunle Tejuoso, owner of Jazzhole Records. I watched Faaji Agba last November in the company of some friends and we found it thoroughly informative not to mention entertaining. The musicians were a joy to watch. You could see they were happy more than anything else just to be acknowledged. The documentary Faaji Agba showed just how (much) professional the older brigade of musicians were. It also showed that we do need to talk about our stars -put them in perspective, preferably when they are still alive. But even if they’re no longer around, it would still help to know some more about them. Why documentary? I imagine organisers of iREP have been asked this question countless times: Why have a documentary film festival? Out of all possible aspects of film making to focus on? I think the fact that documentaries can be used to treat and tackle absolutely any subject matter is one factor in their favour. What’s more, the fact that documentary films can run for as long or be as short as possible is another good point. But to put it in proper iREP perspective, Femi Odugbemi, co-founder of the iREPRESENT Film Forum explains the rationale behind iREP International Documentary Film Festival. He says it’s because documentary films aren’t just about ‘having all the answers but asking the right questions’. More so, as documentaries ‘the nexus between fact, opinion and point of view…cause us to think…’ making them the ‘ultimate agent provocateur.’
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On Day 3 of the 2016 iREP International Documentary Film Festival (March 26), the directorate of the iREP Film Forum launched its first Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. It started a campaign to raise fund for the medical needs of a young lady, Kelechi Uhegwu, a Make-Up Artist in the Nigeria film industry, who however needs assistance for surgery to correct new conditions in her battle with polio.

The Executive Director, co-founder of the iREP, Mr Femi Odugbemi, while introducing the initiative before a room full of local and international guests, stated: “We are committed to helping Kelechi raise funding for surgery for a polio condition. Join us. Look for her page & contribute something. Nothing is too small.”

Kelechi herself responded: “I feel very honoured… Please do not forget to make your donations for my spinal surgery to  Uhegwu Kelechi Ruth, GTBank 0008250589. Thank you so much in advance.” 

We appreciate your kind and generous support. Every drop counts…

–iREP Directorate.

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I welcome you all to the 110th ART STAMPEDE of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA). I thank IREP for providing the platform for the first of several events of CORA’s 25th anniversary. In June 1991, smack in the era of the great silence, some 60 artistes of various persuasions-sculptors, TV scriptwriters, TV soap producers, filmmakers, novelists, painters, essayists gathered in a courtyard in Festac Town, on the far west of Lagos, for the first  QUARTERLY Art Stampede. It was the signature take off of CORA, a group of culture enthusiasts who fancy themselves as landscapists of the Nigerian culture scene. The big idea of CORA was to wet the fields for the country’s artistic flowering. The raison d’être for Art Stampede was to have some kind of artists parliament to throw ideas around that could help shape the economy of culture production. The plan was that culture producers aged between 18 and 40 should have a space to air their hopes and misgivings about anything from cultural administration in the country to the quality of post -Soyinka literature. Sitting here now, in 2016, I know some of you may be thinking: What’s the big deal? But 1991 was 14 years after Festac 77, and although there were quite a number of things happening, they were not in relative the gush that they do now. Nollywood had not happened. The Nigerian novel was in retreat and though Poetry was a strong genre of the Literarti, the publishing industry was gasping under the strictures of the Structural Adjustment Programme. Most art exhibitions in Lagos happened inside the spaces of foreign cultural institutions. With social media in full bloom 25 years after, everyone knows what everyone else is doing at any point in time. Back then, however, we desperately need a “hangout” to network. Indeed, the immediate reason for starting a conversation platform where you could discuss style over kegs of palmwine and break with interludes of live performances, was that the US Information Centre shut the auditorium that young intellectuals of the time used to get together in informal meetings to banter about the facts and fiction of the time. We like to boast that a lot of things that have happened since took physical form because our highly publicised debates put the ideas in the air: Where we lamented about lack of exhibition spaces 25 years ago, the city is now crawling with galleries, even if the standard fare is still to convert a three bedroom flat on Victoria Island to a viewing space. Goethe Institut is now less the default exhibition venue for Nigerian painters than TerraKulture, which came to life in the 15th year of the Stampede. The French Cultural Centre has lost the title of the networking venue to Freedom Park and Bogobiri. Where we questioned What Literature, there is now enough happening in the literary scene to support several Prize awards. Where we argued about the demise of the cinema culture and deliberated about the means to create a vibrant Nigerian Film Industry, we now have Nollywood Phase 3 and everyone agrees it is a work in progress. Where we wondered why the Nigerian music took a back seat in the Nigerian night club, now the Nigerian hip hop is a staple of lounges and bars everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Some foreign centres even started copy catting the Nigerians; the Goethe Institut now has a routine rooftop photo party, a concept we experimented with a Rooftop Garden Party at the National Theatre in 1996, with a stampede devoted to Ben Enwonwu, the late Patriarch of Contemporary art in Nigeria. As the stampede evolved, the core competency of CORA became something like getting a structured conversation on the culture scene. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that we are the first Nigerian –individual or institution- to win the prestigious Prince Claus Award for culture development. We won that award for the rigour of conversations on culture. The art stampede itself has evolved over time and CORA has moved from just being a promoter of conversations to a shaper of events. Two of CORA’s major periodic programmes of the last twenty years have been both the monthly Highlife Party, which ran for seven years and the Lagos Book and Art Festival. In the former, like what the organisers of AfroPolitan are doing today, we put the concept of revival of Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan music genre in a bar and lounge, a popular space where people would otherwise come and entertain themselves. The Lagos Book and Art Festival has become our signature programme. The Festival took off in 1999, the year of our return to democracy. Let me be clear on this; it was several years after the lights went out on the Ife Book Fair –once the largest book fair on the continent-and the same year that the Nigerian International Book Fair was taking off. But we didn’t want a Book Fair; as CORA is for all the arts, we wanted an Arts Festival with a high book content. The idea has blossomed since we wet the fields 17 years ago; there has been the Port Harcourt Literary Festival, the Bayelsa Book and Cultural Festival, the Ake Arts and Book Festival, Anambra Book and Creativity Festival. We haven’t got paid for the Franchise!   I thank the audience for permitting all that backgrounding to today’s event. The Stampede today is to focus on Documentary & Creative Freedom. This collaboration with IREP is a manifestation of our decision, eight years ago, to dedicate a conversation, every year, to the moving images. We started by running the conversation at BOBTV, a brainchild of the indefatigable Nigerian movie producer Amaka Igwe,  in Abuja in 2010. BOBTV has since been rested and we’ve berthed at IREP, naturally . If you watch closely, IREP is hardly indistinguishable from CORA. The man who is emceeing the proceedings, Jahman Anikulapo, is 70% of all of CORA put together.  And Mr. Theo Lawson, the architect and builder of this venue, is both a trustee of CORA and a director of IREP. We have chosen the theme of Freedom, for the umpteenth time in our event because without at least a perception of freedom, our whole notion of flowering of the artistic enterprise, of a wild field of activity, will be restricted.   This is the era of Change: we ask this afternoon, what is the fate and fortune of Documentary Production and Exhibition in an Era of Change. The context:  Documentary films are largely works of Journalism– dealing with reality and presentation of facts; and this could be antithetical to expectation and interest of the State or holders of political or economic powers. It could also create tension between the filmmaker and such officials; in some cases it could lead to cases of harassment, persecution or sometimes outright imprisonment as we have witnessed on recent times. This is the topic we would be tackling in the Stampede. But we want to use one slingshot to kill two birds. We will also discuss the issue of RIGHTS and DISTRIBUTION,in the context of the theme of the IREP 2016 — CHANGE –DOCUMENTARY FILM AS AGENT PROVOCATEUR. The issues to deal with here include: 1.  What rights have the documentary filmmaker, including economic rights ,and 2. What are the options for distributing the content, just in case there is a blockade of the traditional platforms such as screening in the cinema For this, we have invited two key institutions to share their ongoing projects 1. AUDIO-VISUAL RIGHTS SOCIETY, AVRS 2. MOKOLO PROJECTS The Stampede is also an extension of the ARTERIAL DAY celebration in Nigeria, organised by CORA/ARTERIAL NIGERIA. Three years ago, the Arterial Network, which is a commonwealth of organisations working to promote cultural practices all over the continent, chose CORA as the partner in Nigeria. Arterial Nework is a full bodied organization itself; and it has a robust set of individuals working on its programming. We are only the warehouse of its activities in the country. We have indeed benefitted from that partnership; having an official like Ayo Ganiyu, who himself is creator of the Yoruba Drum Festival, has enhanced CORA’s own programming capabilities, so we rub off.   Let there be a disclaimer: CORA is a mere facilitator of this conversation, the agenda setter, of this event, which is happening in the ambit of IREP’s Documentary Festival, so all complaints about this event, including the concerns about my long speech, should be directed to IREP. If there are any legal challenges; IREP should be the defendant. For specific views expressed by participants, please tackle these persons directly.   Welcome to the 110th Art Stampede. .   Very truly yours,   FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE ENTIRE CORA COLLECTIVE Toyin Akinosho Secretary General
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The momentum of the 6th annual IREP film festival continued on day two, with the venues expanding to three different locations: Freedom Park, Afrinolly, and Nigeria Film Corp. Each venue showed films and hosted discussions that continued to explore the theme of #CHANGE through the use of documentary filmmaking. The day mostly consisted of film screenings, which led to very thought provoking conversations. The main venue at Freedom Park hosted a rich selection of films done by notable filmmakers such as Tunde Kelani, Niyi Coker, Femi Odugbemi and Andy Jones, to name a few. This fuelled a full day of provocative thought and reflection among the audiences, which was shown throughout all of the vibrant discussions during the Q&A sessions. Films like “Ota Benga” encouraged the audience to re-imagine the African identity as not only of the continent but as a global identity. What is revealed through the story of a person of continental African descent being forcefully removed to the United States to be put on display for his Black body? In the case of “Black Market Masquerade” how does the extraction of what’s conceived as “African art” to sell in Europe, reflect a misunderstanding about the cultures of African people. The audiences were brought into the discussion of these questions and beyond through the various documentaries shown. The films were in a fluid conversation throughout the day, offering important historical understandings of the African experience and the common misunderstandings that are used to tell the African story. Using various creative techniques, these documentaries show the international stories of African people. African, as a global identity. From the US (Ota Benga, Niyi Coker), to China (China Remix, Melissa Lekowitz & Dorian Carli-Jones), back to Senegal (Sembene, Samba Gadijigo & Jason Silverman), these films allow us to continue realizing the diverse but united African experiences across the world. The source of African unity breeding from a common historical experience of colonization that has transpired into African stories being told without the African voice. Inspiringly, the array of films of the day reminded audiences of the cinematic creativity that can be used through the documentary format. Odugbemi’s Makoko: Young Futures Afloat is an illuminate example of using the creative eye to give the audiences striking picturesque shots, where the visuals become a guiding narrative voice. The film explores the experiences of the people of the Makoko settlement with an inherent beauty that captures the reality without reservation. This is the power of documentary filmmaking. Artists can show the cultural reality of world stories through imaginative and thoughtful cinematic techniques. IREP continues to show the way the festival gives filmmakers a platform to creatively express these global identities and experiences, in the format of documentaries. This remains to have infinite potential, and as the festival continues, the beauty, power and potential of documentary filmmaking will guide the conversations of the people. The change happens here.   Nayo Sasaki-Picou IREP Media Team
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This year we continue with the framework that has powered the conversations at IREP since its inception- “Africa in self-conversation.” An important strand of that conversation forms the theme of this year’s festival – #CHANGE – Documentary as agent provocateur. Simply put, #CHANGE is about connecting our emerging vibrant cinema and creative industries to the realities of our communities. It is about impact filmmaking. It is about embracing the power and promise of documentary to do more than archive history, but to facilitate history. We are delighted to present close to 50 films in 3 venues that show in different ways the essence of this theme. Today, Africa’s journey to political maturity is best expressed by the fact that democracy is beginning to find its feet across the continent. There is now a clear rejection of coups and military tyranny, despots and people of power, the essence of democracy’s promise, has also been demonstrated in a more vibrant contest of ideologies and political activism. Clearly, the people of Africa are keen for democracy to mean something more than an opportunity to choose political leaders or political ideologies. They want a democracy that translates to development, improvements in their quality of lives, better education, better healthcare, better economy, constitutional guarantees of their liberty and freedom in their pursuit of purpose and prosperity. This year’s IREP festival comes at a time when it is most important to take the African storytelling experience to a new level of reckoning and celebration. The post-colonial issues of identity and inequitable sharing of economic resources have created constant tensions and armed conflicts in many of Africa’s nations, with devastating impact on politics, governance and development. The landscape in countries where bitter civil war and armed struggle raged for decades is littered with experiences needing articulation, especially as regards its impact on young people. In countries like Nigeria the absence of armed conflict has not always meant peace, given the violence and corruption of our politics and its adverse effects upon development. The dimensions of documentary as a tool for deepening experiences and mediating history makes it a powerful tool to unpack what we need to grow our nascent democracies. The proliferation of digital equipment and the ease of use of modern camera equipment have created immense activity in the fiction-film genre amongst the young and restless across the continent. Nollywood in Nigeria is now a globally acknowledged phenomenon that has engaged the attention of audiences, scholars and filmmakers across the world with guerrilla filmmaking styles and street theatre content. Because it is articulating the socio-cultural and political experiences of Nigeria, some have argued makes them as well, in some form, documentary. In reality however, a fictional film has a different contract with the viewer than a documentary. Fiction promises entertainment first and reflection second. In fiction you invite the viewer to suspend disbelief. It is an invitation to go into an imaginative world. Documentaries offer reflections first and foremost. It invites debate. Perhaps, therefore the foundational value of the process of engaging in this discourse is to project the question of WHICH CINEMA FOR AFRICA? Clearly Africa needs cinema that does more than entertain. We need cinema that deepens democracy, strengthens Governance structures, advocates responsibility, elevates accountability, fights disease, poverty and illiteracy. The critiques of corruption, poor governance, ethnic divisions, economic paralysis can find a stronger footing if filmmakers turn to their cameras to engage the issues of their realities. These are issues of depression for the viewers. But they’re also issues of INSPIRATION: We need to interrogate the evolution of cultural identities fostered by globalization. What are the Influences of new technologies? We need to reflect on Issues of Civil societies and the emerging economies of Africa? What is our development ideology? Development is a conscious agenda that requires mass mobilization. Documentaries must be at the centre of these conversations. The complication of documentary of course is the intersection between art and activism. The perspectives of the filmmaker are formed by his background, heritage and experiences. Objectivity is remote. The answers offered are a function of the questions asked. It is possible to distort the answer by the question. The narrative of reality and “truth” does not allow for simple answers. But because its content is about shared experiences, its capacity for emotional connections cannot be contrived. That is why the people of our countries have for so long found the existing models of propaganda documentary structures offensive. We have to engender a new consciousness that reframes documentary’s image as a tool for the documentation of personal experiences and an important platform for deepening our democracy, development and empowering human rights. We must craft intervention strategies that forge audience engagement and exposure of the audience to various genres of documentaries that explore experiences and subjects that align and respects with the hopes, aspirations, history and cultures of the people of Africa. It is important that the interventions that emerge are able to create a robust awareness for the power of the documentary as an important tool in this new century. The audiences have to see documentary as a voice for the people to create the change they want: to foster “self-conversations” about the state of their communities and their unique experiences as Africans. There is a need to find an outlet to document the “truths” of our experiences for historical purposes and hopefully, the negative chapters of that history, when documented in powerful narratives, will be slow to repeat itself. Also as many African communities transform from autocratic regimes to full form democracies, there are many gaps of understanding especially in complex issues of governance, development, accountability and freedom of information. The very survival of these fragile democracies begs for public engagement tools that advance understanding and values of transparency, integrity and institutional development. Documentary today must be about engineering open and more vibrant democracies. Femi Odugbemi Director & Co-Founder of IREP International Documentary Film Festival  
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