* Features plenaries on Documentary Film Curriculum Development, Financial Inclusivity
* Bariga, Ajegunle, Ejigbo, Ikorodu to serve as Satellite Screening Centres
By Damilola Chinedu
IT is an election year, and the air is foggy with uncertainties and anxieties that usually characterise such epochal season of transition in the national polity. This has affected programming of many cultural events, with some of them that falls in the first quarter to half of the year being postponed or cancelled outright. But Life must continue. Politics cannot erase our smiles. The soul of the community of humans must continue to be nurtured by the resources of the arts and creativity. We cannot stop breathing or living because of national elections.
Thus, iRepresent Documentary Film Festival, the nation’s prime feast of documentary, after due consideration by the directors, board members and programme directorate, has resolved to stage its 13th edition in spite of the palpable uncertainties in the polity, especially the growing fears of insecurity that could shake the soul of the nation. The feast of documentary will hold from March 16 through 19, 2023 at multiple venues across the city of Lagos, with Freedom Park, Lagos Island, as its central venue with Bariga, Ajegunle, Ejigbo, and Ikorodu as Satellite Screening Centres. ‘Documenting the Underserved: Agenda for Nigeria 2023’ is the theme for this year’s edition.
The 13th iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival, which has held traditionally in the third week of March every year, is slated for March 16-19. 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 optioned 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 the major disruption occasioned by the Covid19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the board and management of the Foundation for the Promotion of Documentary Film in Africa, organisers of the annual 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.”
From ‘Africa In Self-Conversation’ to ‘Nigeria In Self-Conversation’
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, particularly of 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.
Specifically, the theme, as would be reflected in choice of films to be screened and discussions at the minimised plenary, is to spotlight the powerful tool young people have in their hands through their smart phones and other electronic gadgets, which they could easily deploy to expose the needs of their communities for the benefit of their elected representatives, who hopefully would be assuming their various offices with fresh mindset of serving the interest of their people.
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 participants to their civic responsibility,” stated the Festival Programme Directorate, adding, ”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, iREP is partnering with screening centres in the select four pilot centres in Bariga, Ajegunle, Ikorodu, and Ejigbo.
The plenary has been schemed into two variants. The first is the ‘Seminar on Documentary Film Curriculum Development,’ which will 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 agenda for discussion at the main conference which has been slated for July 2023 after the new government would have been sworn, settled in and the election-induced security challenges would have been tamed enough to enable us bring in targeted international participants from the continent, Europe, North America and Canada.
The second is the ‘Symposium on Financial Inclusivity,’ also to be held virtually in tandem with the thematic thrust of the 2023 IREP, it will document the underserved segments of society in our national development agenda and 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 in the society. 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 President and Co-CEO, OPAY Nigeria, Mr. Olu Akanmu and CEO EdFin Microfinance Bank, Bunmi Lawson.
* Chinedu is the Programme and Communication Officer oat iREP Programe Directorate