iREP 2023 Organizers Stage Moderated Version Amid Season of Uncertainties, Anxieties
The thirteenth iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival (iREP) is set to hold as planned, notwithstanding the shift in date of the Governorship and State Assembly elections notwithstanding in Nigeria. However, the board and management of the Foundation for the Promotion of Documentary Film in Africa, organizers of this yearly documentary film festival, have resolved to stage a moderated version of the festival.
This annual program consists of screenings, networking, presentations and panel discussions, and a training workshop designed for emerging filmmakers. Unlike in previous editions, in which the festival embraces global thematic thrust, the 2023 festival would specifically focus on Nigeria in its season of epochal political transition.
As self-explanatory, the edition will focus more on films produced by Nigerians, about Nigeria, and for Nigerians; those in the suburb communities of Lagos where public amenities such as schools, health, water, power, and hygienic/environmental services among others are usually in short supplies.
Why the theme
Commenting on the theme, “Documenting the Underserved: Agenda for Nigeria 2023”, the Festival Program Directorate said, “it has been strategically designed to address cogent issues in the national polity, which essentially is about enthroning responsible political system that insists on good governance and participatory democracy – two ingredients that have been lacking in Nigeria’s checkered 24-year-old democratic journey which began in 1999.”
As a result, “… part of the objectives of the theme is to direct the attention of particularly young people to the power of documentary films in empowering them to be active participants in the discourses in their socio-political, economic and cultural environment,” the Directorate added.
Project Inner City Screenings (ICS)
The Festival Program Directorate further said: “With the chosen theme, … the iREP is embarking on the pilot scheme of the Inner City Screening (ICS) project, which will see it screening films in such suburbs of Lagos — Bariga-Makoko, Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Ejigbo — as well as at the festival’s traditional base – Freedom Park (Lagos Island) [because they] hope to use the screened films to awaken the interest of the participants to their civic responsibility.”
It adds, “The ICS project will also help us in fashioning a critical aspect of the agenda for the iREP 2023-24 main project: the Documentary Film Curriculum Development project.”
According to the Festival Program Directorate, specifically, this year’s theme, as would be reflected in the choice of films to be screened and discussions at the minimized plenary, is to spotlight the powerful tool the young people have in their hands through their smartphones and other electronic gadgets, which they could easily deploy to expose the needs of their communities for the benefit of their elected representatives, who hopefully would be assuming their various offices with a fresh mindset of serving the interest of their people.
iREP 2023 Film Selections
Some of the films selected include Oso Afia (31mins; Nigeria, 2022; Directed by T. Nwaiwu), The Black Museum (52 mins; Germany/USA 2018; Directed by Oliver Hardt), Awon Boys (38mins; Nigeria, 2019; Directed by Tolu Iteoje), Black Deutschland (52mins; Germany 2006/2020; Directed by Oliver Hardt), Boys On The Brink (58mins; 2022, Nigeria; Directed by Peter O. Oke & Rume Renee Onosode), The Plight of The People Of Ndi Inya Abam (7mins; Nigeria; Directed by Vining Ogu), Extra Time On Kondo Street (15 mins; Nigeria, 2022; Directed by Sam Umukoro), Ode To Heroines (19mins; Nigeria; Directed by Ebunoluwa Akinbo and Omoregie Osakpolor).
Others are The Gifted Steppers (60mins; Nigeria; Directed by Solomon Usuanlele), Concrete Under Water (8mins; Nigeria; Directed by Peter Okojie), Afterlife (30mins; Nigeria; Directed by Jubilian Anikazinma Ngaruwa), Jimmy Show (89mins; 2022, Nigeria; Directed by Ayo Adewumi), Genius In Disguise: Demystifying Dyslexia (24mins; 2023, Nigeria; Directed James Amuta), Djembe In The 13 Streets (45 mins; 2020; Hong Kong/Tanzania; Directed Kwong Yin Brian) Please Darling, Don’t Die Before Me (31mins; W/Africa; Directed Debbie Soni), and Her Story; Educate A Woman, Educate A Nation (37mins; 2016, Ghana; Directed Sally Nuamah).
Spotlight on the Screening Centers
To execute this year’s festival program, the iREP is partnering with screening centers in the select four pilot centers in Bariga, Ajegunle, Ikorodu, and Ejigbo.
The Art Factory – Bariga Centre: A community arts center that places young people at the center of its creative activities.
Founded and led by Segun Adefila, the Crown Art Factory encourages young people to channel their energies toward participatory and responsible leadership through the arts.
The result is an outstanding, diverse, and accessible artistic program for everyone. Activities at the Art Factory are mainly targeted at harnessing passions, channeling energies, and shaping futures.
The Factory is where young people change their lives through the arts, and audiences of all ages experience exciting artistic creations.
Dreams of Brighter Days Initiatives (DBDI): Dreams of Brighter Days Initiatives (DBDI) is an organization based in Ajegunle with a unique mission of creating a platform for disadvantaged individuals to succeed.
The group regularly embarks on various community-based projects that encourage education and skill acquisition in the past five years.
It was founded by Eric Obuh, aka Vocal Slender, a former scavenger at the Ojota refuse dump site before the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) produced a documentary titled Welcome to Lagos where he was featured as the lead character on the operations of scavengers at the dump sites.
Jelili Atiku Foundation: Established in 2014 to enhance and promote indigenous Yoruba culture, philosophy, civilization, and values, the Foundation aims at re-activating ancient indigenous Yoruba cultural activities in Lagos State, especially in Ejigbo area of Lagos Mainland.
It also aims to entrench the artistic legacies of Jelili Atiku to increase the sensibilities of communities on the essence of humanitarian values to human growth.
Eriata Heights: A unique place for different events targeted at young persons for personal and professional development through training, workshops, seminars, skills acquisition, fairs, and exhibitions.
The facility also serves as a creative space that promotes creativity via various events organized to support the honing of diverse skills and talents.
Eriata Heights has a Creative Book Space with a library that is open for anyone wishing to have a space for reading and research covering. Its founding vision is to build creatively grounded youths to positively impact society.
Plenary and Project Presentation
The give verve to this year’s festival plenary has been schemed into two: Seminar on Documentary Film Curriculum Development, and Symposium on financial inclusivity.
Seminar on Documentary Film Curriculum Development
This is to be staged virtually, as the conference is designed as an exploratory meeting of scholars, experts, and a focus group of professionals to gather information and data on existing teaching methodology and structure in the few Film studies departments in select Nigerian universities.
With a projected participation of 12 faculties — film scholars, researchers, and teachers – five from Nigeria and four from around the continent, and three from Europe and the West, the Plenary aims to produce a working document that would then form the basis of the agenda for discussion at the main conference, which has been slated for July after the new government would have been sworn-in, settled and the election-induced security challenges tamed.
This, according to Festival Program Directorate, will “enable us bring in targeted international participants from the continent, Europe, North America, and Canada.”
Symposium on Financial Inclusivity
Staged virtually, too, the symposium, in tandem with the thematic thrust of the 2023 IREP — documenting the underserved segments of society in our national development agenda – will address the importance of financial inclusion of the underserved.
The Symposium thematic focus, according to the Festival Program Directorate, is also a reference to the recent crisis engendered by the “Naira Redesign” policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which visited untold but avoidable hardships on a large segment of the society, mostly the poor and low-income earners.
“Speakers will reflect on how the poor and the common people could be given material empowerment so that they are authentic and free participants in the democratic system that determines their fate, future, and fortune.
Two eminent specialists have been selected to address the topic. These are Mr. Olu Akanmu, President and Co-CEO, OPAY-Nigeria, and Ms. Bunmi Lawson, CEO EdFin Microfinance Bank,” it said.
Project Presentation: Content Inclusivity
“My Life of Fuji” is a presentation by Dr. Saheed Aderinto, professor of African History and African and Diaspora Studies at the Florida International Universities, USA, on his ongoing research into the history and development of Fuji music over the years.
Rita Ezenwa-Okoro will speak on “The Street Art Project”. She is the Founder and Lead Visionary of Street Project Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, which uses creative and performing arts tools to facilitate opportunities for youth leadership development, social mobilization, and cross-cultural dialogue in Nigeria.
In “Training: Project Pitching,” Content Creator and Visual Storyteller, Femi Odugbemi, creative leader of Zuri24 Media, producers of such major TV projects as Battleground, Brethren, Japa Movement, and Covenant, takes young filmmakers through the rudiments of project pitching with international Television outfits.