Today, I attended the first day of iREP 2011, the iREPRESENT International Documentary Film Festival at Terra Kulture and Freedom Park. The theme for this year’s edition is: Africa in Self-Conversation. The Documentary Film Intervention. Femi Odugbemi (iREP 2011 Executive Director) explains: “For Africa, the global information order presents a narrative of wars, death, corruption and diseases. Who is telling the story of Africa and its realities from what perspective? Can African filmmakers bring better understanding within and outside the continent with documentaries that give a more rounded definition of the African experience?”
Prof. Manthia Diawara (NYU) addressed this issue of ownership and representation in his keynote address: “The documentary has become the most important area for us in Africa today to make interventions that could go beyond the nation-state. Documentary is archival material that you can still go through…and define your own history.”
After the keynote, the audience explored the concept of home-coming in Who’s Afraid of Ngugi? (2006), in which Prof. Diawara documents the author Ngugi wa Thiong’o and his wife Njeeri‘s return to Kenya after 22 years in exile.
The Terra Kulture portion of the program ended with Jihan El-Tahri‘s look at the history of South Africa’s ANC party, Behind the Rainbow (2008). The Festival then moved to Freedom Park, where Remi Vaughan-Richards premiered Scent of the Street (2010)–in which she follows three “area girls” as they go about their daily lives in Ajegunle.
iREP 2011 will continue in Lagos until Sunday, January 23. Click here for the full schedule of screenings and events.