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IREP, AWDFF hold joint documentary film festival

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• Takes on School Outreach in Cameroun, South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, The Caribbean

From March 18 to 21, 2021 documentary filmmakers from 26 countries will converge on the virtual space to showcase their works to diverse audiences around the world. Sixty films sourced from filmmakers in 26 countries in five of six continents of the world are featuring in the film festival.

This is courtesy a collaboration between the Lagos-based iREP Documentary Film Forum/Festival and the US-based African World Documentary Film Festival at the School of Theatre, Television, & Film at San Diego State University.

Other collaborators have been drawn from Cameroun, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda and the Caribbean.

According to the organisers, as a way of staying in faith with its usual thematic thrust, Africa In Self-Conversation, the entire events – screenings, conversations, lectures, producers’ conventions etc — will happen in the virtual world.

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“This is occasioned by the prevalent COVID-19 pandemic, which has rendered physical gatherings impossible, especially due to its stringent protocols. The advent of the pandemic had also halted the plan by the Lagos-based iREP to stage its grand 10th anniversary edition in 2020 as the necessitated lockdown was announced on the eve of the starting of the festival.

“Through the collaboration of both Lagos-based iREP and San Diego, US-based AWDFF, however, the documentary world will be treated to a feast of flicks that have been carefully curated to reflect the diversities of human experiences through themes that cut across social, cultural and political issues that affect the collective human family,” said the organisers in a joint-statement.

“The virtual option has enabled us to harvest films from even greater numbers of countries and filmmakers; and especially the notion of bringing Africa and its diverse Diasporas together has been greatly enabled by the virtual option,” said the iREP programme directorate.

Filmmakers participating in the festival have thus been drawn from Africa and its diasporas in the West, Europe and the Caribbean: Nigeria, Camerou n, Ghana, South Africa, Congo, Egypt, Kenya,Uganda, Congo DRC, Sudan, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Botswana; Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Australia.

Sixty films in all will be screened, and they cut across human experiences. There are, however, four-star films to be screened in each of the days.

The programme directorate said that it had taken a bit of time and meticulous negotiations to convince filmmakers to entrust their work to be screened in a virtual festival, which could be subjected to abuse if not carefully handled.

“Even as we get set for the kick-off, we are still in exchange with some of the filmmakers or their agents to give full consent. However, the full security of the films is guaranteed through a screening system that ensures that the copyright and integrity of the films are protected.”

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According to Femi Odugbemi, Executive Director of iREP, the 2021 edition “is a necessary child of circumstances. In the world we currently inhabit, there is hardly any other way to realise the full potential of an international film festival of our pedigree than to collaborate and cooperate with other organisations with similar objectives. Luckily, we have always been in partnership with the AWDFF in our past 10 editions but we have also expanded to accommodate collaborations from colleagues in Cameroun, Rwanda, South Africa, and The Caribbean.”

On why the theme: Africa In Self-Conversation, drawn from the founding conceptual framework of the iREP Documentary Film Forum, is designed to promote awareness about the power of the documentary format to serve as a means of deepening and sharing social and cultural education as well as encouraging participatory democracy in African societies.

Significantly, the iREP-AWDFF partnership has enabled the extension of the Festival to university communities across the continent and the diaspora, which had always been the strongest culture of the AWDFF, which started and continued as a university-based festival project.

To this extent, the School Outreach scheme will ensure screening and conversation contents attract the interest and participations of students in select campuses in South Africa, Cameroun, Nigeria, Rwanda, USA and The Caribbean.

The coordinators of the Outreach who would also act as resource persons during some of the conversation sessions are:
• GHANA: Ọbádélé Kambon, PhD; Senior Research Fellow Language, Literature and Drama Section; Institute of African Studies – College of Humanities University of Ghana – Legon

• CAMEROUN: Dr. Donatus Fai Tengem; Dept of Performing Arts; University of Yaounde, Cameroun

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• RWANDA: Jean Pierre Muhoza (PhD student); University of Chinese Academy of Science Research Centre of Eco-Environmental Science; Beijing China

• SOUTH AFRICA: Noel Bekkers; Coordinator: Centre for Student Communities, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

• BARBADOS: Dr. Andrew Armstrong; Dept of Literatures and Languages, University of West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados

• TRINIDAD: Wayne Cezair; Director, Caribbean Travelling Film School & University of West Indies, Trinidad Participating Filmmakers

There are also four premieres/star screenings, vis:
UNMASKED: Leadership, Trust and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria, (117mins); directed by Femi Odugbemi; produced by Daria Media (owned by the renowned journalist and media entrepreneur, Kadaria Ahmed).

CONFRA: (1hr, 44mins), directed by Ayo Adewunmi, CONFRA, according to the director, Adewumi — who has been part of the iREP history for years, always travelling back home to premier his new works at the festival — looks the new character of confraternities in the Nigerian universities.

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King of HIGHLIFE; Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson (The one who lived) (40mins); directed by Kaka Benson; produced by Kaka Benson Universe, is a two-year documentary research film exploring the life and career of the famous king of highlife music. It explores among others, Rex Lawson’s early life; music career and his death. It features interviews and reflections by notable people who played various roles in the career of the legend, such as HRM King Diete-Spiff (first Military Governor of Old Rivers State, Nigeria (1967-1975) and current Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass; Prof. (Sir) Victor Uwaifo, famous highlife musical artiste; and culture researchers, including Steven Osezua, convener of an highlife fans grou and Dr. Sam Dede, veteran Nollywood actor, and Senior Lecturer department of theatre/Film Studies, University of Port-Harcourt. Others include: Pa. Tony Odili, lead drummer and the only surviving member of Lawson’s band as well as children and grandchildren of the late Rex Lawson.

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THE SUPREME PRICE –Though not a new film, is a significant expose on the lingering matter of the annulled June 12 presidential election, especially its ripple effect on the lives of the family of the late businessman-politician, Chief MKO Abiola, leading to the death of his activist wife, Kudirat.

According to Joanna Lipper, the director, producer of the 1hr 15m, film, The Supreme Price is a feature length documentary film that traces the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. Following the annulment of her father’s victory in Nigeria’s Presidential election and her mother’s assassination by agents of the military dictatorship, Hafsat Abiola faces the challenge of transforming a corrupt culture of governance into a democracy capable of serving Nigeria’s most marginalized population: women.

The iREPxCHANGE is a unique feature of the iREP. Each of the four days of the festival will have a session of Conversations — dialogue, exchange or lecture. This is designed to keep discussions and dialogues going on around the significance of documentary filmmaking to the deepening of democratic experiences of Africa societies.

Thus, there will be:
•Thursday, March 18 – presentation on ‘Documentary & Democratic Governance in Africa’ by Dr Joanna Lipper, producer of The Supreme Price. Dr Lipper is a Research Associate, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford, UK.

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• Friday, March 19 – ‘In-Conversation with Femi Odugbemi and Kadaria Ahmed’, director and producer respectively of Unmasked, moderated by Tony Adah, Professor of Film Studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead, USA, now on sabbatical with the School of Media Communications, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.

• Saturday, March 20 -’Future Forward: Collaboration & Cooperative as template for Film Festivals’. Moderated by the founder/director of AWDFF, Niyi Coker ‘Jnr, Professor & Director, The School of Theatre, Television & Film, San Diego State University, San Diego, California. It will feature representatives of the collaborative organs and coordinators of the School Outreach for iREP 2021 as well as other resource persons.

• Sunday, March 21: Cora Art Stampede on the theme Documentary & Preservation of Memories, it will feature the screening of JANUARY 15 1970 – Untold Memories of the Nigeria – Biafra War, directed by Ezennia Ed Emeka Keazor, followed by a conversation between the art critic and Secretary General of the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, Toyin Akinosho and Ezennia Keazor, who through his Alto Historical Media Centre has gathered substantial reputation as a documentarist of history and historical figures.

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