Since the start, no film (arguably) better reiterates the theme of this year’s edition of the festival in bare minimum; Archiving!
The 97 minute long documentary directed by Filipa Cesar, takes us through the affects of a digitized protean research work that started in 2010 with collaborations from Sana na N’hada and Flora Gomes along with other contributors. From narratives about the fight for independence in Guinea-Bissau between 1963 to 1974, to images of the decaying audio and visual samples of abandoned http://www.cheapxanaxpriceonline.com archived of tapes of actual events, Spell Reel raises issues on the importance of archiving a people’s story; a people’s history because “we are gradually losing sight of who we are”.
The filmmakers travel to the places where the raw footages have been shot and from where they originate and this invokes a fresh set of conversations and debate.
Spell Reel captures an ‘archival’ example and serves as a reminder audiences of the use of the archives in the present.
iREP Media Team
Mali Blues, a music themed documentary depicts the history of Music Revolution in Mali. The documentary takes us on a voyage through Timbuktu to Bamako to Kidal, as we follow the lives of runaway musicians who moved between Europe and Mali; who come together to educate citizens on the “de-secularization”, through Music. Its starts off with a concert in a swampy area with over five thousand Malians enjoying music from Fatoumata Diawara, Bassekou Kouyate, Galedou Master Soumy, Ahmed Ag Kaedi and a few others.
On this voyage, we are led to the personal lives of these musicians and how they started:
Ahmed Ag Kaedi from Kidal, in his white turban, talks about why he left his beloved http://laparkan.com/buy-sildenafil/ desert as he prepares tea beer from his little kettle. He exchanged the gun for the guitar.
The Afrocentric Fatoumata Diawara gets back to Mali to educate the women against unhealthy customs, like Female Genital Mutilation and getting young girls back to school. Through her music, she Africanizes the world.
Galedou Master Soummy tours the prison and home for rapping against the religion he felt was destroying Mali. He went on and on with “Explain your Islam”
Through the different stories of these characters, this film brings you on an intimate journey with Malian Music and brings you closer to people who have used it to inspire their different paths forward.
iREP 2017 Media Team
Prod. Theo Lawson
Fela Anikulapo-kuti is a revolutionary ; energetic performer; multi-instrumentalist whose music as the voice of truth still echoes in the minds of many, nearly a decade after his death.
The documentary was preceded by musical performances at the 2016 annual Felabration – a Fela tribute party, held at Freedom park with short interviews and art aficionados as a dedication to the man whose voice would never be surprised by powers of the government.
The big question is: Can one still be incarcerated after death? The filmmaker- Mr Theo Lawson states affirmatively that the ideals of this exceptional being also called Abami Eda remains a taboo whilst some of his songs are forbade by the excluded from mainstream airwaves.
The documentary also takes a peep into the Gbemisola street in the Ikeja residence of the late Afro-beat which presently serves as ‘Kalakuta Museum’- a home for all and sundry. It is sufficiently adorned with his personal effects archived for research and similar purposes.
Another side to the documentary pays much attention to the essence of live performances, particularly wiithin Freedom park. One is tempted to say that the title Free Fela is a deliberate attempt to state the symbolic representation of Freedom Park, formerly a prison space for political offenders, as a location to express himself fearlessly as this has been a conscious construction of space in Freedom Park.
With the film’s composition of footage and thematic texture, we are reminded of the Fela’s vision to continue to enlighten the future generations, his passion for sharing with the young audience. Could it mean that he was sending them a message, and continuously this message remains relevant to us.
It is true that the Nigerian government and corporate bodies have not given honoured his legacy its worthy manner. Free Fela reminds audiences that the archives are an important place to be reminded of the powerful stance that Fela took and that his message remains as a powerful response to the times.
iREP 2017 Media Team
Last night we kicked off the 7th annual iREP film festival at Freedom Park for an opening cocktail reception of the four-day festival. This year’s edition commenced in a rather seemingly manner. The sultry tunes of jazz music was the spice as the evening blues gave an expression of colour, fashion and style as people of diverse callings converged in the amphitheatre at Freedom Park to attend the short cocktail party and to circulate the energy of the first ideas of the themed festival: Archiving Africa.
To open the greetings of the night, Mr. Femi Odugbemi the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the festival said, “This year, the theme of focus is archiving. We’re beginning to see the need for history”. Given the theme, this year is a very special theme with the composition of the festival. He says further of this year’s edition “it is unique because we are hosting a special guest and building the festival around the filmmaker” and soon after, introduces Jihan EL-Tahri; a diplomat, journalist and filmmaker from Egypt whom he says most of his works have been inspired by.
The evening would not have been complete without the unveiling of the iREP foundation board members Chaired by Prof. Awam Amkpa who is doyen of filming and who works extensively in cultural and film based departments in New York at New York University. In his words, “iRep foundation started as a set of conversations among friends that have grown and the aim is to develop a repertoire of promotion of filmmaking; to tell stories of ourselves, our environment, our politics, and our history”.
Throughout the week, the festival will inspire guests to continue to explore the theme of The Archives as an important resource of knowledge and site of re-imagining the African experience. The Archives, are a place that we can look to for documentation of the past and understanding our present conditions of society, culture, identity and self. Sharing stories of the African experience(s) which is not only defined by the boundaries of the continent, but throughout the world, should continue to be shaped and understood by the archives. And of course, translated into the art of documentary films, which we will continue to explore through the 7th edition of the festival.
Starting off the line-up of films was a piece titled Free Fela produced by Theo Lawson and followed by Mali Blues by Lutz Gregor. The day came to a close with remarks by Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, the event’s organizer; a co-founder of iREP and a communicator par excellence.
The festival continues tomorrow at 9:00 am.
Babatunde Odubanwo & Eseosa Eguamwense
iREP 2017 Media Team
In 2010 Makin Soyinka, Jahman Anikulapo and I founded the I-Represent international documentary film festival in Lagos. Since then, We have made some progress making a case for rebuilding a vibrant documentary cinema culture in Nigeria. Our annual documentary festival has screened over 250 films from across the world partnering with other documentary festivals such as the Dok.fest in Munich Germany and the WADF out of the University Missouri in St. Louis Missouri and the New York University’s African Studies department. We have vigorously advocated documentary cinema as an important art form, yes, but more so as a powerful tool for empowering new voices and new perspectives on the issues of our political and cultural history and our development agenda within the framework of our ambitions for development, constitutional liberties, human rights, social justice and democracy. That is why IREP chose from inception to frame our intervention on the theme “Africa in self-conversation.” The clear recognition being that, Nigeria needs more than a cinema that entertains. Whilst we must continue to celebrate the emergence and growth of our Nollywood industry as an artistic and economic engine projecting globally the realities of our culture in fictional cinema, non-fiction day-to-day realities of institutional corruption, poor governance, gender inequality, ethnic divisions and economic paralysis of our country challenge our sense of responsibility as artistes. Our film industry is stronger and more relevant to our community if our filmmakers, can be persuaded to also turn their cameras on questions of important social issues armed with the power and perspective that makes documentary cinema so compelling. For me and for IREP, Making the case for documentary cinema at every opportunity such as today presents, is an on-going conversation. We need all of us in Nollywood especially to continue to hear it. The vibrance of our industry, the audience attention we have gained, gives us huge power to which we must now add purpose. Someone said filmmaking is an “act of provocation.” Perhaps the irony of Nollywood’s success, in this regard, may be that after these many years we are challenged to wonder what is the subversive value of our thriving cinema culture? What is our artistic response to the stagnation of development in our nation? We cannot continue to abdicate the space for the public intellectual to silly NYGoodHealth online bloggers and compromised newspaper columnists. The world is going through a whirlwind of complex issues on many fronts that challenge our understanding of the world, of ourselves and how we sustain our pursuit of peace and prosperity. These challenges are urgent and critical. They demand a response. As artistes, WE ARE THE RESPONSE! In a world of Sound-bites, documentaries provide us an opportunity to think, understand, and connect the dots. They are exploring the issues of our time, offering perspective, historical context and possibilities. They are controversial, divisive, fascinating, unexpected, and surprising. That is because Documentary is not a deliberate art form. It starts from questions not answers. Its success relies not in having all the answers, but in asking the right questions. And because development is a conscious agenda that requires mass mobilization, documentary cinema is a desirable “ideology” embracing diverse voices and realities. It insists on reflection. It invites debate. It is too important to be left in the hands of institutions. It needs to be in the hands of the population. Documentary cinema is vital to helping us express our ‘individualities’ within the blurred boundaries of globalization. All human experiences today, (social political and economic) are moving at a rapid pace requiring not only perspectives but individual interpretations of their meaning and impact. Thankfully the ‘accessibility’ of digital film equipment and the ease of digital broadcast and distribution have created possibilities for personal perspectives and individual voices to be heard. We need a cinema culture that deepens democracy, we need a cinema culture that advocates responsibility, elevates accountability, defends human rights and freedoms and exposes the vestiges of disease, poverty and illiteracy. Documentary cinema must be at the centre of these conversations. The complication of documentary of course is the intersection between art and activism. The narrative of reality and “truth” does not always allow for simple answers. But because its content is about shared experiences, its capacity for emotional connections cannot be contrived. That is why Nigerians have for so long dismissed the institutional documentary structures as more propaganda. We have to engender a new consciousness that reframes documentary’s importance not as a place to archive history but as a tool to make history and forge a future we desire. Our Filmmaking culture must do more than entertain, it must commit itself as well to engineering open, honest, connected and more vibrant human experiences.
Documentary film plays an important role in recording some of the most atrocious incidents deeds of white or western inhumanity to black, and more specifically to the people of the African world. This particular documentary captures the incidents leading to the invasion of an African hamlet or village. It particularly reels the wicked acts meted on an innocent but; unlucky young African man leading to his capture, sojourn to the land of the white man, the dehumanization which he experiences and his eventual death.
Made by African American studies Prof. Niyi Coker of the University of Missouri-St-Luis, Ota Benga shows the various indecencies of a clergyman Rev. Viener who is instructed to explore Africa by his own employers. Entering the village under the pretence of a religious mission, Viener eventually acts brutishly by abducting Ota Benga with brute force, and takes him to the white man’s land. Upon arriving in the U.S, Ota Benga is used as a specimen to be put on display of an exhibit, in a museum among the remains of dinosaurs and various animals. Ota Benga experiences great shock and immense psychological humiliation. He becomes an object of amusement before several white audiences who encounter a Black person from the African continent for the first time. This encounter was influenced by a racist colonial narrative, which classified races placing Black people at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Ota Benga became a tool for the exhibitionist who puts him for auction. The treatment he received at the museum and by the spectators led to damaging physiological torture. This led to a movement of people who protested for his capturing, eventually resulting in his release. However, the psychological damage became a permanent part of his spirit…He then takes his own life to escape the psychological trauma. His name changed to Ota Bingo as inscribed on the tomb.
The documentary has its strengths in that the content mixes exactly with the form, structure and techniques. Niyi Coker adopts a multimedia approach, and goes the extra mile by using facts curled from newspapers and magazines which recoded the sad ordeal of the subject. Original letters of, and from Rev Viener to his employers about his sojourn to Africa and vice versa, montage reels of 17th century America and the so called African primitive world, the cultural landscape of African civilization, cartoon illustrations of African rituals, festivals, and the various levels of invasion of Africa by white men holding guns across their shoulders, pictures of the Ota Benga himself as a happy young man. Niyi Coker also draws on real time interviews with scholars from various fields of study, and more interestingly a few relatives of Rev. Veiner, who Niyi Coker confessed were at first reluctant and hesitant to speak about the malodorous behaviours of Veiner.
These interviews helped in gathering facts about the ridicule Ota Benga experienced. There were other dramatic strategies to the documentary as Niyi Coker employed the services of actors who could intone the accent of the characters that contributed to the miserable life of Ota Benga before his untimely death. These voices were so real and had life that could almost put one in a position as to be part of the entire occurrences and happenings within the period in question. This is what Brian Larkin refers to as the “Aesthetic of Outrage”, a situation which compels the member of audience to be directly involved in the story as it occurred in real time. In this kind of story there is a tragic side and because there exists a tragic side it will be cathartic.
Niyi Coker illustrates a situation of the past to compel us to think about our own situation in the modern world, and how the African person is treated. Further, the film allows the audience to think about the cultural identity of the Black body as it crosses borders, but continues to be oppressed by the colonial structures that were historically created. The spectacle that is created out of Ota Benga in a cage shows viewers the way the history of colonialism, profit, racism and imperialism are all connected and have led to the historic and continued dehumanization of the Black body.
Tunde Onikoyi & Nayo Sasaki-Picou IREP Media Team.
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-PicouIREP Media Team
Samba Gadijigo’s and Jason Silverman’s Sembene! is a rare documentary on the life of one of Africa’s most renowned and important filmmakers, Ousmane Sembene. Ousmane Sembene was Senegalese and the first man arguably who brought some of the most significant issues of Africa’s postcolonial predicaments to the attention of the world, and was regarded (much to his disapproval) as the father of African cinema.
The story opens with Samba Gadjigo finding his way to the home of the late ace filmmaker. The frames carry our gaze with his movement around the neighbour into Sembene compound and then finally into his house. In the house were materials, books, film materials and tools that had suffered much neglect for quite a long time. The house, according to the visual interpretation and with the aid of the narrative voice of the director, had been abandoned for a long-time since the death of Ousmane Sembene himself. We are taken through the way the narrator decided to save those materials and preserve them as best as he could.
The narrator provided us pictures that told stories about Sembene’s rise as well as those influential perspectives that shaped his forte as a filmmaker and the people whom he made friends with in his lifetime. Some of them ranging from artists like Danny Glover to filmmakers like Gordon Parks, Spike Lee and lovers of the art like Henry Louis Gates. Photographs of the young Sembene, much older Sembene and extremely old Sembene permeated the documentary and also contributed to, the handling of the whole artistic framework of the documentary. The interviews with people who were close to him during his life time such as his son Allain Sembene, his house keeper, Nafi Ndoye, and popular Senegalese novelist Boubarchar Boris Diop, were veritable vectors that contributed to story.
Other instances follow with some visual recordings of Ousmane Sembene at work making his films and also instructing people on how to make films. These interviews are juxtaposed with clips from films such as Borrom Sarret, Ceddo Black Girl, Xala, Emitai and of course one of his most controversial works, Campe de Thioraye. The narrator simultaneously shows interviews about Sembene’s view of Africa with both white and black journalists in relation to his beliefs and the films that he had made. Even though his films were a reflection of his society and Africa at large, his personal thoughts shaped the context of his films in such a way that he was able to deconstruct familiar traditions that did not help Africa grow but to remain moribund without transformative change. Clips of his works as shown in the documentary evinced that they were actually subversive films, that part of the documentary only tells us essentially what the power of the frames was destined for during the rise and development, of Sembene in a continent that had nothing but its courage and dignity.
There were other areas in the film where other issues of his life are relayed, such as the situation surrounding his divorce with his wife Carrie, how it devastated him and his refusal to get married again. Another reflection has to do with his idiosyncratic nature during his filming and when his moments of relaxation, recess and leisure time with, his son, friends and accomplices. The documentary reads more like a biography of Sembene, and an autobiographical account of Samba Gadjigo on his relationship with Ousmane Semebene. In fact, what makes the documentary more exciting is the fact that the filmmaker gives us enough details and indications to believe that he was the closest to Sembene. The fact that Sembene personally made him have access to his house when and whenever he chooses to visit was a clear indication of the close relationship that exist between the two. More significantly, their various sojourn together all over the world giving talks about his works and maintaining consistent appearances at international festivals and conferences, exhibition and so on.
The reality of the work is inspiringly sublime. The work has a powerful undertone that makes you feel Ousmane Sembene still remains alive, living in the castle of the skin of those who admired him, and the alacrity he exhumes when it comes to discussing about Africa, his homeland in Senegal, his beloved people and his job. Visual representation of his silent moments, the way a walks the streets of France, London, and Burkina Faso, his debonair camp and humility when he is given a standing ovation, his familiar and yet imposing frame, as well as his funny and yet particular way of smoking his pipe. All these specificities only tell us that Ousmane Sembene was a phenomenal personality who will always be remembered for the many cinematic conventions and inventions that he popularised in Africa.
The original scores by Ken Myr and Chris Jonas were well perfected for the film and the most profound was the closing version which fitted the story of the subject, such that one wonders whether a president had died. The film will for long be important for studies in African documentaries and the “cine essays”, which was popularised here in African film criticism by foremost historian and cinema scholar of long standing Prof Manthia Diawara. And one thing this film will do is that it will serve as an important work for new readers, students and general readers of Ousmane Sembene’s films. Therefore, even if no one had ever read about Sembene, the documentary will serve as an introductory encounter. It is more than a tribute to the ace, and late cinematographer.
Tunde Onikoyi,IREP Media Team
From the perspective of the documentary filmmaker who had a personal relationship with Bi Kidude, is a beautiful tale of a woman who was the oldest singer alive in some part of Zanzibar. On April 17, 2013 while he was still emotionally distraught about the death of his mother, Andy Jones received the devastating news that his long-time friend and music icon Bi Kidude has passed on. Twenty-four hours later he was in Zanzibar, the home country of the Legendary Bi Kidude.
This documentary was shot in Zanzibar, showing Bi Kidude when she was about a 100years old and still touring the country and the world, performing her music internationally.
Bi Kidude was a rebel-rocking chain smoker whose sense of humour was vibrant and carried that spirit throughout into her old age. Andy and Bi Kidude travelled the world together forming a strong bond and friendship. Bi Kidude was known as the ‘Queen of Zanzibar’, the ‘Queen of Africa’. A huge annual music festival called ‘Busara’, in Zanzibar, was never complete without Bi Kidude’s performance. Bi Kidude in her older age became very sick but then was shockingly kidnapped. A mystery: who would kidnap an old woman who was loved by all?
Andy went around searching for answers. It is later revealed that she was abducted by Baraka; a distant relative of hers. He felt that all the people around her were taking http://laparkan.com/buy-accutane/ advantage of her and she was not being properly cared for. In the documentary he relayed his anger towards Omari, a young man, who worked with Kidude of whom he accused of stealing from her. He also accused the management of Busara and a couple of others for defrauding the old woman. In his, defence he claimed he was keeping her for her own good, so she can have a ‘peaceful’ life till she dies.
It was not clear if Baraka had good or bad intentions. Baraka gave an interview that leaves the audience with a lot of questions, causing the management of Baraka to decide not to handle her money anymore. Andy Jones found Baraka and, was able to convince him to let Bi out of the house, because keeping her locked in and away from her friends and her music, was killing her rather quickly than keeping her alive. Baraka agreed after persuasion to let Kidude to go back to singing.
The documentary reads like a biography about the last 10years of Bi Kidude’s life. Taking her away from music was like taking life from her. What comes to mind is the fact of reality that, Andy Jones was inspired by Bi Kidude’s life. Andy Jones carried a very inspired theme throughout with his documentary which is: “DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE AND DON’T STOP”.
Tasha SarumiIREP Media Team
This story highlights the journey of 7 successful women: Odunayo Adeoye a Nigerian Fashion Designer, Ajara Bomah a CEO from Sierra Leone, Mariama Jalloh a Sierra Leonean top Manager at KPMG, Issa Rae a Producer and Writer, Yeniva Sisay-Sogbeh, Nadia Sasso and Sarah Jabia) as they explore their “identity”. The multimedia composition is explored through a discussion format focusing on identity and the struggle of being of continental African heritage but raised in America. The documentary opens with Nadia Sasso speaking with her mother over the phone on her way from the United States to Sierra Leone. She introduces us to the 6 other African American ladies speaking of their experiences and identity of being African in America along with the struggles being American in Africa.
The documentary takes us through the cultural challenges of these young ladies as it highlights the issues such as different ideals of beauty, finding your community, alienation, language, and finally the displacement that migrants experience in American societies. The music scores from Nigerian artists like Brymo and Timaya took us through the different motions excellently.
This documentary has allowed for people have a platform voice given their complicated relationship with understandings of race, complexion, gender, heritage, hair texture, intonations and so many other issues. Agreeably, the quality of life in America has incomparable advantages. However, the quality of happiness for Africans cannot be measured. Africa is great beyond its own visions. Nevertheless, in order to see its greatness, the onus lies in the hands of the African people within the African diaspora to view Africa as their home for its growth or work internationally to be a part of the change. As Africa is set to enter its next stage we must break the barriers among its own people to build a continent of which we continue to discover its potential.
Bayo Fagbamila and Imoh EbohIREP Media Team