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Amid uncertainties, iREP 2023 beckons

By Sunday Aikulola
12 March 2023   |   4:03 am
All is set for 13th iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival, which held traditionally in the third week of March yearly, is slated for March 16 to 19.

Bolanle Austen Peters

• From Africa In Self-conversation to Nigeria in Self-conversation
All is set for 13th iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival, which held traditionally in the third week of March yearly, is slated for March 16 to 19.

This is within the election season, which starts with the Presidential and National Assembly polls on February 25, and the Governorship and House of Assembly polls on March 11.

This coincidence would naturally have resulted either a postponement or outright cancellation of the festival, which seems logical.

However, with determination not to miss out on the historical trajectory of the festival, especially after major disruption occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the board and management of Foundation for the Promotion of Documentary Film in Africa, organisers of the yearly documentary film festival, have resolved to stage a moderated version of the festival at same appointed date.

The coincidence with the electioneering season, of course, has consequential disruptions to the nature and character of the festival. Essentially, it also has implication for the thematic thrust of the festival. Thus, 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.

WHEREAS the generic theme of iREP since foundation has been Africa in Self-conversation, with dependence on international partners to provide human and material resources for both plenary and screening slots, the 2023 minimised edition, will have as generic theme, Nigeria In Self-Conversation. As self-explanatory, the edition will focus more on films produced by Nigerians, about Nigeria, and for Nigerians; in particular those in the suburb communities of Lagos where public amenities such as schools, health, water, power and hygienic/environmental services etc are usually in short supplies.

Why the theme
The theme: Documenting the Underserved: Agenda for Nigeria 2023, 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 chequered 24-year-old democratic journey which began in 1999.

Part of the objectives of the theme is to direct 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.

Project Inner City Screenings (ICS)
“With the chosen theme, Documenting the Underserved… 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). We hope to use the screened films to awaken the interest of the participants to their civic responsibility,” stated the Festival Programme Directorate.

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.”

To execute this programme, the iREP is partnering with screening centres in the select four pilot centres in Bariga, Ajegunle, Ikorodu and Ejigbo.

The Art Factory – Bariga Centre
A community arts centre that places young people at the centre of its creative activities, the Segun Adefila led-Crown Art Factory encourages young people to channel their energies towards participatory and responsible leadership through the arts. The result is an outstanding, diverse and accessible artistic programme for everyone. Activities at the Art Factory are mainly targeted at harnessing passions, channelling 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 organisation 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 acquisitions 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, civilisation 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 trainings, workshops, seminars, skills acquisition, fairs and exhibitions, The facility also serves as a creative space that promotes creativity via various events organised 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.


THE plenary has been schemed into two: Seminar On Documentary Film Curriculum Development and Symposium on financial inclusivity.
Seminar On Documentary Film Curriculum Development

To be staged virtually, 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 to enable us bring in targeted international participants from the continent, Europe, North America and Canada.

Symposium on financial inclusivity
To be staged virtually, 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 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.

Project Presentation: Content Inclusivity
My Life of Fuji — 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.
The Street Art Project — Rita Ezenwa-Okoro, Founder and Lead Visionary of Street Project Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation speaks on her organisations’s project, which uses creative and performing arts tools to facilitate opportunities for youth leadership development, social mobilisation, and cross-cultural dialogue in Nigeria.

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.

Irep 2023 Film Selections
SOME of the films selected include, Oso Afia (31mins; Nigeria, 2022; Dir. T. Nwaiwu), The Black Museum (52 min; Germany/USA 2018; Dir. Oliver Hardt), Awon Boys (38mins; 2019, Nigeria; Dir. Tolu Iteoje), Black Deutschland (52mins; Germany 2006/2020; Dir. Oliver Hardt), Boys On The Brink (58mins; 2022, Nigeria; Dir. Peter O. Oke & Rume Renee Onosode), The Plight Of The People Of Ndi Inya Abam (7mins; Nigeria; Dir. Vining Ogu), Extra Time On Kondo Street (15 mins; Nigeria, 2022; Dir. Sam Umukoro), Ode To Heroines (19mins; Nigeria; Dir. Ebunoluwa Akinbo and Dir.Omoregie Osakpolor), The Gifted Steppers (60mins; Nigeria; Dir. Solomon Usuanlele), Concrete Under Water (8mins; Nigeria; Dir. Peter Okojie), Afterlife (30mins; Nigeria; Dir. Jubilian Anikazinma Ngaruwa), Jimmy Show (89mins; 2022, Nigeria; Dir.. Ayo Adewumi), Genius In Disguise: Demystifying Dyslexia (24mins; 2023, Nigeria; Dir.James Amuta), Djembe In The 13 Streets (45 mins; 2020; Hong Kong/Tanzania; Dir. Kwong Yin Brian) Please Darling, Don’t Die Before Me (31mins; W/Africa; Dir. Debbie Soni) and Her Story; Educate A Woman, Educate A Nation (37mins; 2016, Ghana; Dir. Sally Nuamah).