By Vanessa Obioha
The largest documentary festival in North America, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival has added Nigerian documentary ‘In Bakassi’ to its film lineup for the 2019 edition.
Produced by Joel Benson, ‘In Bakassi’ tells harrowing tales from one of the most populated Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in northeast Nigeria, Maiduguri. A first of its kind virtual reality production to gain international screening at the 2018 Cairo International Film Festival, its selection at this year’s Hot Docs marks a huge milestone for Benson.
Produced in 2018, the documentary has been receiving great reviews at international festivals for its heart-rending capture of the struggles of survivors of the Boko Haram terror in the northeast region.
Earlier this month ‘In Bakassi’ screened at the African Hub of the Berlin International Film Festival, Social Media Week Lagos, and more recently the Africa Tech Summit in Kigali.
In a letter addressed to the filmmaker, Hot Docs’ Senior Programming Coordinator and International Programmer Gabor Pertic congratulated the filmmaker on “a great piece that you made”.
Expressing excitement over his film selection, Benson said “I’m excited that VR content from Nigeria is playing on a platform as huge as Hot Docs and it proves that Nigerian filmmakers can also play a pivotal role in using this emerging technology to tell stories.”
He added that the impact of insurgency in the northern part of the country cannot be overemphasized. “What ‘In Bakassi’ has been able to do is to bring the tales closer to home. The viewer can now walk in the shoes of the victims as well as feel their pains. We need to start having conversations on the plight of IDPs. Their welfare should be paramount to any well-meaning Nigerian.”
The annual festival will kick off on April 25 to close on May 5 in Toronto, Canada.