Reflections from “Lights, Camera, Africa Film Festival 2018”

Among the films screened at the 8th edition of the “Lights, Camera, Africa (LCA) Film Festival,” “Zerzura” tops our list of films which took care technically and creatively.

Because of its production style, which seemed more like a documentary than a traditional scripted film,  “Zerzura” is not the kind of film the average Nigerian is drawn. Yet it stood out for artistry and directing.

“Zerzura” is a story of a young man who lives home in search of a better life. The film’s director, Christoper Kirkley says, ‘the stand-in is a magic city of gold in the Sahara. But it just as well could be anything that draws people to leave their homes in search of something better.’ Furthermore, Kirkley said the work was influenced by his ‘own experiences in meeting migrants headed out to cross the Sahara, headed to Libya or Europe.’

“Zerzura” was the first in a series of films themed around the mass emigration of Africans to Europe through the Sahara or Mediterranean sea, which screened at the LCA Film Festival 2018. Subsequently, “Grandma” and “Asmat” were screened.

“Asmat” (Names) is a deeply-moving 18 minutes short film. It was directed by Dagmawi Yimer. “Asmat” is a lamentation for those who have perished in the Mediterranean, and it mentions their names and meanings. It chides politicians for being responsible for their fate. In short, the narrative, somber illustrations and music make this film.

As Africans, our names are meaningful and hold a great significance. For most parents, names represent their hopes and aspirations for their children. And so when the narrator mentions names such as Tesfaye (my hope) you cannot but wonder what hope there is for Africa.

We also had the opportunity to see “Granma” and hear from the film’s director, Alfie Nze and its sponsor. “Granma” is sponsored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). And IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.

The 35-minute short film is the story of Jonathan, a young Igbo boy who lives in Lagos. Jonathan was recording his song in a studio when he received a call that his cousin Momo had passed away. Momo was on his way to Europe. Consequently, Jonathan accompanies his grandmother “Granma” to the village to deliver the sad news to Momo’s grandmother. On their way, they chat about Jonathan’s music career. “Granma” tells Jonathan that he is wasting his life trying to become a recording artist. As a result, Jonathan becomes discouraged. So, he decides to choose the same path as Momo.

“Granma” is a very relatable short film. Nze dedicated the film to his cousin Chikezie. Chikezie embarked on a journey abroad in the nineties. Since then, neither Nze nor any member of his family has seen or heard from Chikiezie. Sad.  

Much like Nze, almost everyone from the south south or south east of Nigeria is connected with someone who travelled to Europe but  mysteriously disappeared and so, presumed dead.

The theme for year’s “Lights, Camera, Africa Film Festival” was ‘Who do you think you are?’ By the end of the festival, these thought-provoking films were a reminder to reflect on Africa’s pressing emigration issue.

The “Lights, Camera, Africa Film Festival” held in Lagos from 28 – 30 September.

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the eyes of the Nigerian viewer.