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iRep 2016…exploring change, documentary as agent provocateur

A scene from the iRep Film Festival 2015.

A scene from the iRep Film Festival 2015.

All is now set for the six edition of the iRep International Documentary Film Festival billed to open on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos. Rated biggest in West Africa, the documentary film fest, which will wrap on March 27, will feature screening of over 30 carefully selected international films.

Other activities lined up include special international guests in-conference, the iREP Producers’ Roundtable, paper presentations and panel discussions, training workshop for young African filmmakers, while the feast will end with the IREP Cocktail /Award Ceremony.

Though conceived on the traditional iREP thematic framework of Africa in Self-conversation, this year’s theme, #CHANGE, Documentary as Agent Provocateur, is premised on the whirlwind of complex issues confronting Africa today on many fronts that challenge our understanding of the world, of ourselves and how we sustain our pursuit of peace and prosperity. These include poverty, epidemics, terrorism, civil wars, racial inequalities, economic imbalances, imperialism, corruption and political divisions.

“These challenges are urgent and critical; they demand a response. In a world of Sound-bites, documentaries provide an opportunity to think, understand, and connect the dots. Documentary films are exploring the issues of our time, offering perspective, historical context and possibilities. They are controversial, divisive, fascinating, unexpected, and surprising. Documentary is not a deliberate art form. It starts from questions not answers. Its success relies not in having all the answers, but in asking the right questions,” said Femi Odugbemi, Executive Director/Co-Founder.

According to a statement issued by the organisers, some of the guests and resource persons for this year’s festival include United States-based Prof. Manthia Diawara, who was born in Bamako, Mali, and received his early education in France. He later received a PhD from Indiana University in 1985. Prior to teaching at NYU, Diawara taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Diawara has contributed significantly to the study of black film. In 1992, Indiana University Press published his African Cinema: Politics & Culture and in 1993, Routledge published a volume he edited entitled Black-American Cinema.

A filmmaker himself, Diawara has written and directed a number of films. His latest film Negritude: A Dialogue between Wole Soyinka and Senghor will be specially screened at festival.

Also on the list is the United States-based Nigeria’s Prof. Awam Amkpa. A 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, he is the author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires, London: Routledge, 2003 and forthcoming Archetypes, Stereotypes and Polytypes: Theatres of the Black Atlantic. He has directed film documentaries such as Winds Against Our Souls, Its All About Downtown, National Images and Transnational Desires, and feature film Wazobia!

Joining the festival this year is Steven Markovitz, a South African film and television producer, who has produced, co-produced and executive-produced features, documentaries and short films including the acclaimed Boy called Twist, Behind the Rainbow” and Viva Riva!. Since 2007, he has worked all over Africa producing documentary series and fiction. He has an associate office in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and works with production offices across Africa.

Jane Mote, a former senior vice president of global channels for BBC Worldwide and director of factual and lifestyle for UKTV is also confirmed for iRep 2016. Mote, who left the multichannel broadcaster to head up factual channel Current TV in 2001, is currently the Media consultant for TV channels and digital media companies including Turner Broadcasting, Discovery, BBC Worldwide, London Live, The Africa Channel, Whickers World Foundation and One World Media.

Also, United States-based Nigerian Prof. Niyi Coker Jr, who is the E. Desmond Lee Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Media Studies at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis, will also grace this year’s festival. Coker, who has directed over fifty major stage productions around the world, is the founding artistic director of the African Arts Ensemble in NYC, and has served as Artistic Director-in-residence for several theatre companies ranging from the National Theater of Nigeria; K3 Theatre in Malmo, Sweden; Black Box Theatre in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The list also includes Tunde Kelani, the storyteller, director, photographer, cinematographer and producer, in a career spanning more than four decades. TK, as he’s fondly called in the industry, specialises in producing movies that promote Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and have a root in documentation, archiving, education, entertainment and promotion of the culture. He is also known for his love of adaptation of literary material into movies as most of his works have followed that style of filmmaking including Ko se Gbe, Oleku, Thunder Bolt, The Narrow Path, White Handkerchief, Maami and Dazzling Mirage.

Coming from Germany is Julian Reich, who born in Rochester. He studied film at the prestigious Art Center College Of Design in Pasadena, CA and began his film career as an assistant editor on such films as Beyond Silence (dir.: Oscar winner Caroline Link) and Life is a construction site (dir.: Oscar winner Wolfgang Becker). Since 2004, Julian has lived in Berlin and has since directed music videos for such clients as SonyBMG & Universal and documentaries for ZDF, ARD and SAT1.

Meanwhile, Paul Reith and Barbara Off from Germany and Nigeria’s Onye Ubanatu will also join the resource team this year.
Among films to be screened at the festival are Negritude: A Dialogue Between Soyinka And Senghor by Manthia Diawara, Ota Benga by Niyi Coker, The Revolution Won’t Be Televised by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain, The Democrats by Camilla Nielsson and The Drills Of Afi Mountain by Tom Richards.

Others are I Shot Bi Kidude by Andy Jones, Low Season by Madeleine Dallmeyer, Silent Stars by Ishaya Bako, Warrior Father King by Julian Reich, Jaaji Agba by Remi Vaughan Richard, Statues Also Die by Alain Resnais,
Chris Marker and Ghislain Cloquet, Still Standing by Joel Kachi Benson, Biodun Olaku: Nigerian Painter by Tam Fiofori and Black Market Masquerade Peter Heller.

The iRep International Documentary Film Festival was initiated with the objective of promoting independent documentary filmmaking in Nigeria and on the continent of Africa. The Festival places emphasis on training and skill development to the benefit of the young, aspiring and practising filmmakers in Nigeria, especially for those with flair for Documentary films.

Conceived as a celebration of the best works in the world of documentary films while providing an intense learning environment for young and aspiring filmmakers, iREP is conceptualised to also create a platform of awareness and expression for filmmakers who are creating socially relevant films to positively impact our world. The festival features hands-on training and skills development workshops facilitated by an array of the most experienced practitioners in the field of documentary film making across Africa.

Though exploring the framework, the theme for every edition varies every year, and embraces issues pertaining to Africa’s social, political, cultural, spiritual and economic realities. To fully engage an array of trans-cultural creativity, iREP provides a forum for everyone’s ingenuity to be showcased without prejudice to style or subject. It celebrates the ever-expanding world of documentary films by inviting talents from across the globe to share ideas on trends and technological advancements in the format.



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