Nigeria Guide

iREP docu-film festival 2023 ends in Lagos


The iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival, (iREP Festival), opened March 16th, for its 13th edition despite intense fears about election violence due to threats by political thugs in Lagos during the Saturday, March 18th elections.

The feast of documentary which ended on Sunday, March 19th, opened with an online pitching workshop on story selling facilitated by iREP co-founder and Executive Director, Femi Odugbemi. It however, had its opening ceremony at the Amphi-theatre, Freedom Park, Lagos.

The festival, held at multiple venues across the city of Lagos, as it has been customary, had Freedom Park Broadstreet Lagos, as its central venue while Bariga, Ajegunle, Ejigbo, and Ikorodu were Satellite Screening Centres. Themed “Documenting the Underserved: Agenda for Nigeria 2023”, this year’s edition of the festival, held within the election season, focused on Nigeria unlike the thematic concerns of previous editions which focused on the global community.

Resolved not to allow the change in the date for the March 18th election earlier scheduled for March 11th, disrupt the festival, the organisers decided to stage a moderated version of the festival. As a result, the docu-feast began Thursday through Sunday, with only the Saturday Programme content adversely affected. In effect, the scheduled Plenary sessions (all virtual) and Screenings held as planned, only the screenings on Saturday evening at the various designated centres were affected.

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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, had as generic theme, Nigeria in Self-Conversation. The edition focused 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.

The reason for the theme: “Documenting the Underserved: Agenda for Nigeria 2023”, according to the festival directorate was strategically designed to address cogent issues in the 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 was 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.

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Specifically, the theme, as reflected in choice of films screened and the discussions at the minimised plenary, spotlighted the powerful tool the young people have in their hands through their smart phones and other electronic gadgets, through which they could expose the needs of their communities for the benefit of their elected representatives.

With the chosen theme, “Documenting the Underserved”, the iREP embarked on the pilot scheme of the Inner City Screening(ICS) project, with films screened in such suburbs of Lagos – Bariga-Makoko, Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Ejigbo – as well as at the festival’s traditional base – Freedom Park . ‘Oso Afia’, Directed by T. Nwaiwu; ‘Awon Boys’ directed by Tolu Iteoje; ‘Her Story, Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation’, directed by Sally Nuamah, and a host of others were screened.

Featured plenaries included ‘Documentary Film Curriculum Development,’ which was staged virtually. Designed as an exploratory meeting of scholars, experts and a focus group of professionals, the conference focused on gathering information and data on existing teaching methodology and structure in the few Film Studies Departments in select Nigerian universities.

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The feast also had Bolanle Austen-Peters, as speaker in the Plenary, ‘Documentary for Inclusivity: Political Inclusivity (Screening of Excerpts from Motherland The Musical) on Friday.
There was also “Documenting the Underserved: Case for Financial Inclusivity,’ held virtually in line with the thematic thrust of the 2023 IREP. Featuring Olu Akanmu, President/Co-CEO of O’Pay Nigeria, this session dealt with the underserved segments of society in our national development agenda while addressing the importance of financial inclusion of the underserved. Speakers reflected 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.

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