Documentary Panel by TJ Benson


TJ Benson moderates the documentary panel, which has Ummi Bakar, director of Uprooted, Amaka Vanni, co-director of Beyond Tolerance and Ronke Adeola, director of Awani. For an hour, they explore the rising popularity of the documentary genre, the subject of identity and complication of stereotypes as explored by all three directors and reception of their work.


Ummi states that she wanted to make a film about the northeast that went beyond the sad stories, which showed some sort of silver-lining and this was the main challenge in making the documentary. Getting the people to talk was not too hard as they had been through a traumatic event with no one to talk to and were glad to have listening ears. Most of them weren’t aware of this silver-lining, until they started talking, especially about the presence of their husbands at home and distribution of domestic work as a result of curfew.


Ronke’s major challenge was funding, getting archival material wasn’t too difficult as some of the participants in her film helped her with it. She wanted to show that even before the global feminism got to Nigeria, women were already leading protests against the British government, women were already going to war for their rights and their livelihood, women weren’t helpless.


Amaka’s film which was an exploration of the Ifa religion, was borne out of a curiosity for other religions. She was inspired by a mysterious correlation of certain doctrines of spirituality across religions. She collaborated with her friend Rafeat Aliyu and had to convince the Ifa worshippers that she wasn’t there to mock them and they became comfortable with discussing the tenets of the religion. She believes that throwing our traditions away equals throwing identity away and without identity who are we as a people?