REVIEW: THE 6TH EDITION OF LIGHTS, CAMERA AFRICA FILM FESTIVAL
The 6th edition of Lights Camera Africa Film Festival with the theme; Music Makes The People, took place between September 30 and October 2 at the Federal Palace Hotel. Supported mainly by Union Bank and One Lagos, the 3-day festival, screened feature films, shorts and documentaries across genres from the continent and beyond to an eclectic mix of new and returning audiences comprising of artists across different fields, filmmakers, movie lovers, art and music buffs. Unlike the previous installments, there was no call for entries this time year. According to the founder of the festival Ugoma Adegoke, over the years, the festival has shown consistency, subsequently garnering attention, as well as earning the respect of filmmakers locally and internationally. As a result, she decided along with her curatorial team to work with a theme in line with some of the films already made available to them.
At the entrance was a creative ‘boom box’ in the form of the classic Volkswagen vehicle commonly referred to as ‘beetle’, hand painted by Polly Alakija who is renowned for painting on several unusual surfaces. Called the Independence Car, it portrays the 3 major ethnic groups in Nigeria, our coat of arms, year of independence and this current year.
Polly Alakija her hand-painted Independence Car and Adebimpe Adebambo.
At he back of the hall were festival bags, articles of clothing, accessories, books and pieces of Afrocentric chairs and poufs made with prints for sale. This area also provided a setting people could take short breaks and chat in between screenings.
LCA 2016 opened with Abba T. Makama’s satirical youth film, Green White Green and All the Colours in My Mosaic of Madness, which recently had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF as part of the 8 films chosen from Nollywood for the City to City 2016 TIFF programme.
Femi Odugbemi’s Gidi Blues which is making international film festival rounds screened on the second day of the festival alongside documentary films like Too Black To Be French directed by Isabelle Boni-Claverie, The House of Nwapa directed by Onyeka Nwelue, ‘Biodun Olaku: Nigerian Painter directed by Tam Fiofori, Rain, The Colour of Blue With A Little Red In It directed by Christopher Kirkley and Cholo directed by Muzna Almusafer. Speaking with Onyeka Nwelue before his film screening, he revealed he was inspired to make the film by Flora Nwapa’s funeral brochure shown to him by his mother as a child and which she kept till 2014, because she knew he would want to direct a film about her. Considering himself a feminist, Nwelue said Nwapa was a strong woman who terrified men, therefore her story was silenced. Her novel Efuru published in 1966, the first book written by a Nigerian woman in English according to him remains a reference point in Nigerian and African literature. Nwelue recently returned from Havard in the United States where he was invited to screen the film as the novel marked its 50th year.
Jahman Anikulapo moderating the Q and A session after Femi Odugbemi’s Gidi Blues screened.
Tam Fiofori’s documentary on the contemporary Nigerian painter Abiodun Olaku often compared to British J.M.W. Turner (who has also had a biopic done about him written and directed by Mike Leigh), struck a chord with me. I am a visual artist, a painter to be precise first before all else, so having a photographer, journalist, filmmaker document a colleague’s work is the icing on my cake. In the Q and A session moderated by Aduke Gomez, Fiofori said the documentary was shot for a few hours in 2002 when he paid a visit to Olaku’s studio opposite the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. He mentioned that he was to go with his camera man around Lagos capturing sights and sounds, but they had decided to make a first stop at Olaku’s place. Fiofori only just rediscovered the footage 14 years later in his archives early this year which he worked on and edited. The 18-minute documentary shows Olaku talking about his artworks and the inspiration behind them. Since an artist is a custodian of history, his artworks are documentaries unto themselves highlighting key moments in Nigeria’s history and some of our societal issues like ethnic clashes, insecurity, maternal mortality and injustice which 14 years down the line sadly, are still prevalent. Fiofori said it was a spontaneous and experimental work and his consistency in documenting artists is a result of his sense of social responsibility. His next documentary is on the jazz great, Peter King whose music coincidentally released in 2002 served as the sound track for the Olaku documentary. He has previously done documentaries about the late legendary photographer ‘Okhai Ojeikhere and the sculptor Olu Amoda.
On the last day of the festival, a panel of discussants comprising of artists, journalists, musicians and filmmakers like Lemi Ghariokwu, Gloria Rhodes, Ray Onanuga, Onyeka Nwelue and Debbie Williams spoke on the theme Music Makes The People, music in film, society and as the pulse of the people. The different roles of ‘music for the brain’ and ‘music for the waist’ were established and the consensus reached by all was that music is a bridge, is life and could be used for therapy like in the case of Intore, the searing yet hopeful documentary on how different forms of music aided the reconciliation and healing process after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The panel was moderated by Shaibu Husseni a theatre practitioner and seasoned film journalist and critic. Other films and documentaries screened were; I Shot Bi Kidude directed by Andy Jones about a Tanzanian female musician Kikude who performed on stage till she was aged 103; Lagos: 1861-1960 The Birth of a City of Style directed by Ed Keazor illustrating the fashion, music, trends and events that shaped an image conscious, iconic city; The Amazing Nina Simone directed by Jeff Liebermann about the late African-American who could not be categorized due to her greatness and whose music proclamations and iconic style gave voice to people of all colours facing oppression and Tunde; a documentary directed by Ron Wyman about Tunde Jegede the master cello player who composes and performs a seamless fusion of African and Classical music. Tunde Jegede and his Art Ensemble closed the festival with a beautiful music concert bringing it to a rapturous end.
Tunde Jegede and his Art Ensemble performing.
I look forward to the 7th edition of the Lights Camera Africa Film Festival. Ugoma Adegoke and her LifeHouse team have shown class and consistency over the years. Kudos to them for a pleasant art and culture infused Independence Day weekend.
Image credits: Lights, Camera, Africa.
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