iRep International Film Festival opens with focus on unfiltered stories from Africa
The iRep documentary film festival opened yesterday with a strong focus on balancing stories about Africa told by Africans and non-Africans.
Addressing participants at the opening event, the festival’s executive director, Femi Odugbemi, revealed that African stories are unbalanced and negative because organizations funding African stories, both non-governmental organizations and international agencies, have filtering mechanisms and an agenda.
Such a filter, he said, is why stories about Africa, despite the increased involvement of young people in the creative sector telling Africa’s stories, all look and sound the same. way – negative “feeding a definite Western stereotype” and unbalanced.
“We need to decolonize the stories of Africa. We need to decolonize the screens of Africa, and we need to ensure that the stories told about Africa are balanced. We don’t need an Eldorado of stories from Africa, but we need to get to the point where both sides of the stories are told.
“We can do that through factual documentaries and films that can hold our leaders to account,” Odugbemi said.
But in her presentation, iRep keynote speaker and Executive Director, Africa No Filter, Moky Makura urged African storytellers to tell better stories from Africa that do not feed stereotypical negative Western narratives of the continent.
Makura, whose CNN opinion piece titled Media coverage of Ukraine shows it’s time to rethink what we know about Africa received several backlashes, said that the view of Africa by international media and storytellers has affected the image that Africans have of Africa. Therefore, she said, African media reports on stories from Africa are 81% hard (negative) news, while only 4% of the stories Africans read about each other are about arts/culture, and only 7% of other stories are human. stories of interest.
To change the narrative, she said, African storytellers must consciously make efforts to tell better stories about Africa, reframe African stories and consume African stories.
“I challenge storytellers to go tell these untold, untold, hidden stories. Telling better stories means spending more time researching and telling your stories, and respecting the people whose stories you tell. focus on the stories you tell Be careful of the lens with which you come to see people.
“As Africans, we have to make the decision to support African content. We have to decide that Africa is amazing and start consuming our content. As storytellers, we can begin to look at some models where brands can sponsor engaging, inspirational, and human-interest stories related to their services. »
In response to non-Africans interested in promoting unfiltered and balanced stories about Africa, Makura recommends skills transfer and co-productions focused on building businesses in the local creative industry as a way to ensure a sustainable industry.
Showcasing over eleven of the 80 scheduled films selected for the festival on the first day, the actual event has plenty of programming in store for its audience for the duration of the festival from March 17-20.