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It’s a rare privilege to indulge in a cocktail of intellectual and cultural binging, nothing can quite express the euphoria. That is why the Ake Arts and Book Festival is a literal heaven for any book lover, especially those that love African literature. The festival is an annual literary and cultural event that provides an umbrella for people to romanticise ideas and explore literary works. Strolling through the gathering was eye-opening; there ware different panel discussions, book chats and roundtable discussion, even a documentary viewing, One event that held everyone spell-bound to their seats – I figure it was everyone as I was too engrossed to check- was the panel discussion titled ‘Directing Her Narrative: African Stories’. Review of Directing Her Narrative: African Stories at Ake Festival Maybe it was the love of Nollywood or the interplay between literature and the film industry that held the glue, but it was fascinating to see Sara Bletcher, whose movies are the rage in South African, share insights behind Sisters Working in Film and Television(SWIFT), Tope Oshin and her belief about the rise of female directors, and also Jade Osiberu discussing the business of creativity.Review of Directing Her Narrative: African Stories at Ake Festival With the panel discussion being led by Arit Okpo, Sara Bletcher, a South African director and producer discusses why her movies are written the way they are. For her, it is not a question of not writing or writing about race, xenophobia, or similar issues that are raised because of her colour as a white woman living in South African, it is however about making films in things that she is interested in. She also reiterated that the success of any film project boils down to the team. A successful director is one who picks his/her team carefully and communicates the vision of the film effectively.Review of Directing Her Narrative: African Stories at Ake Festival In the same vein, Tope Oshin, the brain behind the movie ‘Fifty’, expressed her happiness that more women are getting stronger in Nollywood, no longer waiting for anyone’s permission, and that everyone should keep achieving and never settle. She was however saddened by the opinion present in the film industry, where women give up their career for their marriage, she hopes that there would be a platform where the committee of women in the film industry would train other women to be able to succeed in the industry, as she believes that passing the torches would sustain the little flames arising in the industry. Jade Osiberu focused on her personal story, her movie ‘Isoken‘ is about attaining true freedom once you let go of people’s opinion. She explained that she felt indeed free when she had an engagement broken. She expressed how she had always desired to be a filmmaker, but as an engineering graduate venturing into Nollywood, she had to look at her doubts in the face and chase her dreams.Review of Directing Her Narrative: African Stories at Ake In the course of the discussion, similarities and diversities in the Nigerian film industry and the South African industry were highlighted, while Nollywood practitioners receive little or no backing from the government, they source for private or corporate loans, the South Africans rely on the government and not the banks but receives little or no profits. In conclusion, an evening with the practitioners of the entertainment industry shows that female producers, directors have decided to seize the bull by the horns and quit the sidelines as they are now making award-winning movies.

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This article was first published on 21st November 2017


Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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