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Nnaebue’s No U-Turn Clinches Gold for Artistic Bravery

His personal story is akin to the stories of those on life’s torturous path in pursuit of the proverbial greener pasture. However, Ike Nnaebue turned his narrative around, and he now tells the story of the many voiceless people searching for succor
August 8, 2022
11:27 am

The Durban International Film Festival has awarded Ike Nnaebue’s documentary, No U-Turn, with the artistic bravery award of the year at the recently concluded festival in South Africa. His first documentary film addresses risks of undocumented travels.


“This award actually touched me more than the Berlinale Award. Despite the fact the Berlinale was international, this one speaks to me in a very deep way,” he told TNR.



According to Nnaebue, he has always wanted to tell the story for “26 years but didn’t know how.” Eventually, he found a way to, but the procedures were not all too rosy. For him, therefore, the artistic bravery comes from all that he and his team went through during filming.


“Despite the bombing in Mali, the terrorism in Burkina Faso, we were detained in Mauritania for three days.” The sacrifices and the hurdles they experienced while filming the documentary makes him resonate with the award more.



The award-winning filmmaker has other works to his credit. One of which is a movie, Sink or Swim, which addresses illegal migration as well. This affinity to explore the under belly of illegal migration suggests that Nnaebue intentionally wishes to drive home this narrative and effect a social change. This is because he was once a victim of undocumented travels.


“I lost my father when I was two years old. So, I didn’t know my father. When I was 13, I had to leave my mother. Apprenticeship didn’t really work out. Her idea was that I was the first child and I had to go make something out of myself and come back and help raise my siblings. Then, I heard it was possible to go to Europe without visa. So, I jumped on the idea with my friends and two other guys.”

He didn’t proceed with his venture as a teenage boy after being educated about the dangers by a stranger while in Mali.

“I said ‘no’. I wasn’t going to continue. That night was one of the darkest nights of my life till date.”



This experience made him to kick off a program to help stranded immigrants because most of them are not fortunate to find a sincere adviser like he did. This, he said, is one of his ways of “finding solutions to societal problems” instead of just capitalizing on the problems.


“I’ve never really been a fan of popular culture – making films for comedy’s sake or just to sell out Box Office,” he revealed to TNR.  Instead, “I’m more interested in how to move the society forward,” Nnaebue responded when asked why his artistic endeavors as a film maker lack the comedy that typifies most Nigerian movies.


He is interested in stories that “highlight the magic of the people” because “to be honest, colonialism and religion has messed up a lot of things. Can we still find our roots?” he asked.



For Nnaebue, “documentary is just like a conversation starter and actually changes your life”. On that note, the filmmaker is working on another documentary that would take him back to his roots. This time, to getting to know his father. “It’s called Finding My Father. My father was a blacksmith and a musician. I’m trying to get to know him through his works.”


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