iREP 2016 – Asking the Right Questions through Film

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AIRTIME 

airtimeplus98@gmail.com    iREP 2016 – Asking

With Onoshe Nwabuikwu

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 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.’

SOAPS & SERIES

Pretty Little Liars
Thanks to Netflix, I managed to watch the first five seasons of US TV series Pretty Little Liars. I’ve also now managed to watch Season 6 of this series centred around high school girls: Alison (Saha Pieterse), Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Mona (Janel Parrish). I can’t remember why I decided to get into PLL now.

But after I began the series and being of the school of thought that believes in seeing things-films, TV series, etc- to the end, it became a task that had to be tackled. I also had to be up to date with all the happenings on PLL.
I’m happy to say I’m now officially done with Season 6. I’m waiting for the seventh and final season to begin. Now don’t judge. My excuse is that I’m a TV critic.
If you’re also interested, brush up on Netflix. And check out season 6 of Pretty Little Liars on Vuzu (dstv channel 114).

Tinsel is Improving
I better say this before the moment passes or before I lose my resolve. Tinsel is becoming more interesting. It has also improved a great deal. This should be good news to Tinsel fans or should I say ex-Tinsel fans like Colin and my friend Kaine. This is not to say that there aren’t still things I find curious.

I remember my friend and I used to burn precious airtime rewriting Tinsel after each episode. There was just so much that didn’t add up. The improbable story lines. The fact that Tinsel’s story based on a film industry presumed to be Nollywood had no resemblance to anything recognisable. At least not to Nollywood watchers. Odyssey and Reel Studios could’ve been about studios based in Mars.

But I digress. This is supposed to be good news. I’m happy to report that Tinsel is now quite interesting. There’s now enough meat to sink your teeth into. The trio of Ene (Florence Uwaleke Okechukwu), Bimpe (Ihuoma Linda Ejiofor) and Telema (Damilola Adegbite Attoh) are simply wonderful together. Their obvious bond/screen chemistry is unbelievable. I think MNET would do well to create a spin off show with just the three of them.

Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Joaquim de Almeida, Louis Arcella, Gomez Bernos.
‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) and Peter Candy (Billy Bob Thornton) are bitter rival political PR strategists/consultants from the US hired to help win the Bolivian presidential elections. Peter is first to be hired by presidential hopeful Rivera (Louis Arcella).

When Jane arrives to help save Pedro Castillo’s (Joaquim de Almeida) sinking presidential ambitions, she’s at first shocked to discover she’s up against her nemesis. But memories of her past failures (to win against Peter) get her fired up. She soon resorts to typical American style negative smear campaign to give her candidate a fighting chance. Jane’s candidate wins but reneges on his campaign promises even before the victory dance is over.
‘Our Brand…’ is based on a 2005 documentary of same title by Rachel Boynton, a fictionalised story about how an American political strategist company Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS) was hired by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2002 to help win the Bolivian presidential elections.

Our Brand Is Crisis is a comedy-drama and Sandra Bullock carries the role of the neurotic but brilliant strategist well. But it’s not so much that it’s extremely funny as it’s painfully close to the Nigerian story during the 2015 elections. The people are told there is a crisis which can only be resolved by Castillo, a former president . This tactic gets the people on his side. In the end, their fear wins.

But as Bolivians take to the streets in protest, the American consultants are soon on their way to other jobs, in other countries. Jane feels the need to stay behind and wander among protesters. Clearly too little too late as not even her death would solve the problems on ground.

COME AGAIN?

“FRSC to visit drivers with fake licence or without valid licence with stiff penalties.”
-NTA news headlines, Thursday March 31, 1.26 am-ish.
Aside from the awkwardness of the grammar here: ‘visit drivers with (fake licence) or without (valid licence) with stiff penalties,’ it would appear that journalists are now having to resort to grammatical acrobatics of Biblical proportions to show that the present administration as being full of action.

Why can’t the FRSC just propose penalties? The magic word used to be ‘orders’. Routine meetings are turned into ‘summons’ and the like. But it is curious that in spite of all the ‘ordering’ and ‘summoning’ taking place, power supply has dropped low enough for the availability of electricity in most households to be like that of our visiting president. FRSC officials can be seen at ‘odd’ hours and at points checking vehicles.
From the look of things, it would seems as if the FRSC is already ‘visiting drivers’ with all kinds of penalties.