Directing Her Narrative; African Stories

Panelists: Sara Bletcher, Tope Oshin, Jade Osiberu

Moderator: Arit Okpo

This panel held in the chat room and was moderated by Arit Okpo. The discussion covered the difficulties in filmmaking as a woman, amongst other issues. Tope Oshin said to be taken seriously ‘your sponsors want to identify the message in your work, what you want them to support before releasing funds.’

The pressure of dealing with women issues using film as a medium was also brought up and Arit asked Sara Blecher for her reaction to her critics who ask why her work doesn’t deal with obvious women’s issues. Sara replied saying she was only interested in films she wanted to make, for example one of her films she made with the audience of one in mind; her daughter. She mentioned however, that making films with her female gaze mattered more because ‘I believe this would make the world a less violent place.’


Arit turned to Jade Osiberu and asked her how she was able to source funds for her project. Jade said lack of data made it tough to get access to funds and people who had this data generally don’t share them. She shared that she got 70% of funds to make her movie ‘Isoken’ from the Bank of Industry. Sara Blecher commented that in South Africa, no bank was interested in giving you money to make a film because their experience of that was failure. What they had there were grants. She mentioned that they also had an organization of women working in the film industry formed initially for their representation in media called SWIFT (Sisters Working in Film and Television). After a survey revealed that about 70% of them felt unsafe going to work in the industry they came up with programs to ensure women’s safety.

In the question and answer segment Toni Kan asked why Nollywood wasn’t adapting Nigerian literature into film and Tope Oshin countered that listing recent books that had been converted to literature like Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Lion and the Jewel.’ Moreover Arit Okpo mentioned that the Nollywood industry was a reflection of the Nigerian audience ‘Let’s be honest how many of us went to watch 93 days? What of the Wedding Party? So you see Nigerians are use movies as escapism not reflection.’

TJ Benson