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At I-REP 2019, Africa in self-conversation with storylines

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Femi Odugbemi, Executive Director/Co-Founder

The ninth edition of the yearly iREPRESENT (i-Rep) International Documentary Film Festival will hold from Thursday March 21 to Sunday March 24 2019, at its traditional home, Freedom Park, by Broad Street, Lagos, and the Nigerian Film Corporation, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The 2019 Festival is conceived on the traditional framework of Africa in Self-conversation. This year’s theme is Storylines. According to Femi Odugbemi, Executive Director/Co-Founder of i-Rep, “every human being is a story and we are constantly in pursuit of tools to advance and promote alternative facts about ourselves; and how we wish to be seen. The contention between what is real and what is preferred is shaping the currency of human exchange.”

He said, “the plenary sessions will see screening of over 30 carefully selected international films, representing the best new works dotting on the generic theme of Africa-in-Self-Conversation. Films selection is in conjunction with our co-curating partners; African World Documentary Film Festival (AWDFF), AGDOK, and German Documentaries. Dozens of other films related to the theme and allied subjects will also be screened in the screening room and other satellite venues such as the NFC’s newly upgraded screening rooms in Ikoyi.”

Odugbemi added that the Producer’s Roundtable, one of the key programmes of the festival, ‘has come to be known for insightful discussions that are solution-driven and engage producers in a pro-active prognosis into the opportunities that can grow impact of the documentary film genre.”

Keynote speeches and presentations woven around the theme are usually at the core of the Festival’s daily proceedings. This year will feature leaders of thought in filmmaking and media scholarship in conversation with the community of filmmakers present at the festival. It would be an in-depth interaction that goes beyond the top-down approach of paper presentations.

“Through the iREP Training and workshop platform, we have been able to train over 200 young and upcoming filmmakers in the rudiments of filmmaking and understanding of the documentary film art. We would expand the platform this year to accommodate the ever-growing number of participants. Two training programmes have been set up for this edition. The First, running Monday March 18 through Wednesday 20, and featuring 50 participants is on Scripting For Beginnners; Basic Course In Storytelling, to be conducted by Dr. Tunji Azeez, of the Department of Theatre and Music, Lagos State University. The second, Advance Directing Masterclass, featuring 20 participants, runs Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 20, and will be conducted by a well-tested director, Tolu Ajayi,” Odugbemi said.

According to him, “over 50 films will be screened in the course of the festival; carefully curated from over 100 submissions by local and international filmmakers. Films came in from nearly all parts of Africa and the Diaspora. Remarkably, more films were submitted this year by Nigerian (Nigeria-based) producers than ever recorded in past nine years. This is a signification that the culture of documentary filmmaking is indeed growing in the home-front; one of the cardinal objectives of the iREP.”

Some of the Nigerian filmmakers showcasing in iREP this year are:
Tam Fiofori, the septuagenarian photographer and filmmaker, who has been very consistent in past few years in the festival list: His film is titled, Ogbu-Oja Eze, reflects in the career of an Igbo flutist. Tunde Kelani , also another consistent contributors and supporters of the festival, is screening his latest work, Yoruba Beyond Borders, which he directed and produced with long-time sideman and collaborator, Bola Bello.

Afolabi Adesanya, filmmaker and former Director General of the Nigeria Film Corporation, NFC, is also presenting his bio-pic Gbenga Sonuga: Artist, Activist, Administrator, former director of Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture, and now traditional ruler, Fadeseewa of Simawa Autonomous kingdom, near Sagamu.

Beverly Naya, the Nollywood actress, explores through identity the meaning of beauty in all the different shades of black.
James Amuta, showing Nightfall in Lagos, which explores the not-so-underground world of transactional sex in a country where prostitution is illegal.

Aderonke Adeola , showing Awani, which examines the evolution of the role of Nigerian women, starting from pre-colonial Nigeria to the present day. Adeola Osunkojo, showing 76: Story Behind the Story on the experiences of the families of the military officers executed in the aftermath of the 1976 coup.

Tolulope Itegboje, showing Awon Boyz, documenting lives of street boys from three hoods telling stories about coming up, ambition and hope. Ronke Macaulay, showing Green Passport at France 98 — the third in the Green Passport series by the filmmaker on experiences of Nigerians when they travel abroad.

Toyin Ibrahim Adekeye, showing Bigger Than Africa, which follows the journey of hundreds of Africans (slaves) from the point of no returns in West Africa to the final destinations In the slave. Gbenga Salu, showing Little Heroes, on street kids and their soccer exploits

The i-Rep executive director said, “the prestigious iREP honours this year will go to Mrs Bolanle Austin-Peters, the CEO of Terra Kulture, who has emerged a frontline promoter of arts and culture in the country.’

According to the iREP director, “Mrs. Austin-Peters is being honoured this year, on occasion of her 50th birthday anniversary because “essentially, she represents the spirit of progress and possibilities in our culture producing community; a major inspiration to many young people.”

He continued, “more so because, at the inception of the festival, Mrs. Austin-Peters was the first supporter we had. She gave us her the Terra Kulture facilities free of charge and even donated lunch to some of our guests. She repeated the feat on the second edition before the festival relocated to Freedom Park. That is an uncommon gesture of philanthropy, especially in our clime. For this kindness of spirit, iREP Directorate has decided to honour the one fondly called “Mama Terra,” a true Amazon of Art Promotion in Nigeria.”

The honour will be presented to her at the Festival opening Cocktail event on Wednesday, March 20 at the amphitheatre of Freedom Park.The iREP will pay tribute to some of the members of the artistic and culture producing community who passed on recently, starting with the Film historian-critic, Professor Frank Ukadike; the visual arts curators, Bisi Silva and Okwui Enwenzor; the Professor of African Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Prof. Pius Adesanmi, and the theatre artiste and prolific TV drama scriptwriter, Paul Emema.

PROF. AWAM AMKPA (US): Former Senior Lecturer of Drama and Television at King Alfred’s University College, Winchester, England, and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Mount Holyoke College. Author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires, London: Routledge, 2003 and forthcoming Archetypes, Stereotypes and Polytypes: Theatres of the Black Atlantic. Director of film documentaries such as Winds Against Our Souls, Its All About Downtown, National Images and Transnational Desires, and feature film Wazobia! Author of several articles in books and journals on Modernisms in Theatre, Postcolonial theatre, Black Atlantic Issues, and Film studies. He will be curating the INTESECCTIONS segment of the festival on the theme: The Other Storylines during which he would showcase films that have experimental narrative forms, even as they reflect on issues around cultural developments in Africa. These include An Opera of the World by the renowned African Scholar, the Malian Manthia Diawara.

PROF. ‘NIYI COKE: Currently Director of the School of Theatre, Television, and Film at the San Diego State University, ‘Niyi Coker, Jr., is the Founding Director of the Africa World Documentary Film Festival, (AWDFF) which is presently in its 12th season. The festival shows in the USA, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and most recently in Thailand. For 14 years, he was the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor in Theatre & Cinema Arts, African & African American Studies at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis. Prior to that he has taught at several other institutions including, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Wyoming, and the University of Colorado at Denver. He is an Associate Member of the Directors Guild of America and a full member of the Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers SDC. He holds a B.A in Dramatic Arts from the University of Ife, Nigeria, the MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College CUNY, and a Ph.D in African American Studies (Cultural Aesthetics) from Temple University in Philadelphia. He is author of 2 books The Music and Social Criticism of African Musician Fela Kuti and Ola Rotimi’s African Theatre: The Development of an Indigenous Aesthetic. He has written numerous book chapters and contributed several articles to Journals and Magazines.

THEO LAWSON: Studied architecture at the Architectural Association School, London between 1978 and 1985, where he experimented with both traditional African and High-tech design styles. Back in Nigeria he studied earth construction techniques culminating in he’s being invited to design and build the Bauchi State Museum in 1987. In 1990, he set up Total Consult, a design and build practice, and worked on many commercial and residential building projects. Total Consult also evolved into designing Stage sets and grew to become the market leader over a fifteen-year period. In 1999, he teamed up with other designers to form the “C.I.A.” (Creative Intelligence Agency), a Collaborative that spearheaded ideas for Lagos in the Millennium. This led to the conception and realization of “Freedom Park”, now Lagos’ most vibrant Arts space. He has also worked on other Public space projects that include; The Motherlan’ performance centre, University of Lagos Anniversary Park and the Kalakuta Museum to name a few. Theo Lawson will keynote on “Urban Art Spaces and stories.” He will also be speaking in an afternoon session on “Arts and Urban Spaces”. Theo Lawson is 60 in Saturday, March 23, and will thus be celebrated on the ground of the i/rep Festival in the evening of same day.

DR PAUL UGOR (US): Assistant Professor, Illinois State University. Paul Ugor earned his Ph.D. in English and Film Studies from the University of Alberta, Canada in 2009, and in 2010 was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral fellowship in Canada. Ugor was also lucky to be awarded the prestigious Newton International fellowship by the British Academy, which took him to the Centre for West African Studies, University of Birmingham, UK. While at CWAS he researched on the new socio-economic challenges confronting young people in three different cities in Nigeria and the new existential strategies these youth have developed to cope with the vicissitudes of life in precarious postcolonial urban spaces.

After his fellowship in Birmingham, Ugor worked as a sessional faculty in the Department of English and Cultural Studies, at McMaster University, Canada from where he joined Illinois Sate University in the fall of 2014.

PROF. LINUS ABRAHAM: Prof. Linus Abraham has taught at the Greenlee School of Communication at the Iowa State University. He was a professor at one of the top journalism training institutions in the United States—the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) at the University of Minnesota. At both universities, Professor Abraham was a member of the graduate faculty. Dean Abraham has researched and published in the areas of visual persuasion; the structure, interpretation, and social functions of visual media; the role of visual imagery in contemporary forms of racism, and the role of new media in society. Linus Abraham is also a documentary filmmaker.

Among his productions are Barbara’s Dollhouse (a documentary on the collection of historical black-dolls in the United States) and The Forgotten Sports Heroes (a documentary reflecting on the plight of some of Ghana’s past sports heroes, neglected in the waning years of their existence). Professor Abraham is a member of a number of academic honors societies in America — Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the Golden Key National Honor Society, and Kappa Tau Alpha (the national journalism honor society).Prof. Linus Abraham will speak on Storytelling and African Identity.


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Femi Odugbemi
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