Funa Maduka is the director of “Waiting for Hassana,” a short film that shares the story of one of the abducted Chibok girls.
The movie screened at the opening night of the 2017 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF).
Pulse Nigeria had an interesting conversation with Maduka, who spoke about what inspired the movie, interviewing 30 girls for the film, the process she had to go through to make the film, and what she hopes to achieve with “Waiting for Hassana.”
On what inspired “Waiting for Hassana”
It’s mostly because “Waiting for Hassana” tells the story of the Chibok girls, which is a story that the world believes that they know, but they mostly only know the headline. They know about the hashtag, they know about the big stories that they have read in the papers. But what they don’t know is the personal story, and that was what drove me to make the film.
On interviewing 30 women for the short film
In the process of making “Waiting for Hassana,” we actually interviewed about 30 young women who were able to escape from the trucks [Boko Harama] that night, so they weren’t taken into the forest. Maybe one or two were taken about half way or very close to the first camp, but they were all able to jump from trucks under the threat of rifle fire, and basically escape within the first 45 days of their kidnapping.
So, we were working with young women, who have been trying to live a normal life since the abduction and are still very much traumatized by the events. They are persevering, they are back in school even though part of the reason that they were targeted and attacked is that they are young women pursuing their education. They are fighters walking among us and really trying to pursue their future.
I was really happy to have an opportunity to interview them.
On the process she had to go through
There were enough convincing people about the importance of the story that you’re trying to tell. Then there’s the development phase of ‘what exactly is the story that I’m trying to tell?’
So I knew that I was going to have access to 30 young women and what I did was I had kind of a plan on how I thought the film was going to go and the kind of stories I was going to hear.
But when I got to the North and interviewed the girls, I kind of let all of that go and really focused on hearing their stories and letting what I was hearing dictate how we decided to move with the process.
On why she didn’t go for comedy
I think comedy has its place, I think a documentary has its place, and I think there are audiences for everything. I think that as an artist, you have to make the kind of films that you feel compelled to create. I haven’t yet been compelled to make a comedy film.
When you are at your desk and you’re thinking about what it is that you want to bring into the world, you can always let your audiences dictate that.
I am not a commercially driven director, so I am not thinking in that way. I think money follows passion, money follows commitment, money follows purpose. It was really about the importance of telling a good story that is a very Nigerian story and is also a very global story.
On what she hopes to achieve with the film
I think we have achieved a lot so far, which is really about starting a conversation and giving people a new perspective. We were the first Nigerian film ever selected to screen at the Sundance International film festival, and we have done 30 festivals since then, and just last night, AFRIFF, which was really amazing.
Collectively, all of these experiences have meant that we have allowed a lot of audiences to open their minds to a story they thought that they already knew and really see the story from a more personal angle.