Amaka’s Kin: The Women of Nollywood will be screening at the debut edition of Nteredde Documentary Showcase at Wizarts Media in Ntinda later this month. We caught up with the director of the documentary to talk about her film and the industry.
You’ve been known in many circles as a feature film maker and producer, what prompted you to do this documentary?
Attending the Berlinale Talents some years ago, as well as Ecrans Noir 2013 and meeting several documentary filmmakers, opened my eyes to the possibilities of documentary. It has the uncanny ability to say much more than film can, and opened my eyes to possibilities of saying much more than I had in the past through fiction.
And this subject matter in particular, had to be a documentary. The journey and plight of women directors working in film in Nigeria, as well as a tribute to one of Africa’s biggest female filmmakers, Amaka Igwe and how she affected her downline and helped in raising and inspiring the champion female directors and indeed filmmakers practicing in Nigeria today.
Did being a female producer yourself push you to do Amaka’s Kin?
Absolutely, definitely. Being a female director/producer in the film industry in Nigeria, meant that I had experienced firsthand, the issues every other had faced/is facing. Being a female means that I was/am aware of how the impact of the few women practising might have been downplayed. Being a female knew that I was in the place of each of the women directors practising in Nigeria today, and I had felt their pain, journeys and successes.
What does Amaka’s kin mean to you?
Amaka’s Kin to me, is one of those works of mine that will always be dear to me above all others. It was/is a passion project for me, totally devoid of any self-aggrandisement or gain. I made this film purely for the cause of the women in Nollywood, past, present and future.
Which discussions do you hope the film will start?
The discussions have started already. Documentaries always present the facts that exist, and push them back in your face. Most of the biggest responses I’ve gotten from this film are actually from men, who had no idea what women directors had to go through to become directors of film. They had no inkling about the ridicule, the struggle, and that we have to work doubly hard to make any impact at all in our chosen careers. I am happy this documentary in Nigeria and in all the other countries it has screened outside Africa, has sparked these conversations about the role and impact of women in the creative industries, and indeed in the world. The screening at Dublin for instance gave birth to a panel discussing and comparing the journey of female directors in different parts of the world, and how to come together to make it easier for women and help. These are the kinds of reactions I have been blessed to receive from the screenings we have had.
What should the female audience pick out the film?
That there are women like them living their dreams boldly, without fear, and refusing to be stopped or “permitted” to be great. You can and need to go boldly in the direction of your dreams, and be awesome at it. Make your life, and affect other lives. Be great, and help make others greater. We can only rise higher, if we hold each others hands forming a strong rank.
What should the male audience pick out of the film?
When you understand that gender is not meant to be a privilege, you start to look at the world differently. A lot of men are not able to understand or realise just what women go through in different careers, because of their own gender privilege as men. People don’t second guess you like they do women. People don’t challenge your skill or expertise. People don;t automatically assume you’re not smart enough because you are female and of the “weaker sex”. This is what Amaka’s Kin strives to drive home to the men who are oblivious of these challenges their sisters, mothers, wives, daughters face or are facing in the world, in their careers, and how they can help by being that different man progressively.
Intelligence is not a function of gender.
Do you hope to make more documentaries?
Oh yes, definitely I do. I have 2 other documentaries in the pipeline I’m seeking funding to make currently. There’s no stopping.
Any message to Ugandan film makers, especially the ladies that want to make it like you?
Ah! I think this message is somewhere in one of my answers up there. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams. Don’t be shy. Follow it with all tenacity. Be true to yourself and your vision, your dream. Feed it like crazy, and you can not go wrong. Intelligence and success are not functions of gender. Get up and go on, and strive for excellence. ONLY.