Funa Maduka is the director of "Waiting for Hassana," a short film that shares the story of one of the abducted Chibok girls.
Funa Maduka talks “Waiting for Hassana,” process, inspiration
For “Waiting for Hassana,” Funa Maduka interviewed 30 Chibok Girls who were able to escape from Boko haram on night of abduction.
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."
Read Excerpts and watch full interview below.
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 riffle 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 because they are young women pursing 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 was 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 documentaries 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 through a more personal angle.
On the most important accomplishment
I think the most important accomplishment is that when we showed Jessica (Heroine of the film) the film right after we finished the final cut - that was actually the audience member that I was most nervous for because we worked through Christmas and new year to get the cut finished, and we were not going to allow it go to Sundance without her approval — and she loved the film.
The story of “Waiting for Hassana” is about two young women who grew up together. If you can imagine having a best friend from age two and then to be abruptly split apart. So when Jessica watched the film, she was so incredibly happy. She said she felt like she was doing something for her friend who is still in captivity, and that she made this tribute for her friend.
So to have helped her do that is the biggest accomplishment, and I think that anything else that we get outside of that is an icing on the cake.
On reactions to the film and its message
We had really great feedback from last night. It was interesting because it was a lot of the same sentiment that I received at the other festivals where people were like ‘I thought I knew the story but now I really feel connected to the story.’
What they liked about it was that the film is tender and it shows a lot of care.
On how she became a filmmaker
So this is my very first film, I had never made a film before. But I have worked on film sets before. The first film I worked on was a documentary as a PA, so I was getting coffee, taking script notes and hanging out with the sound guys and learning all the stuff on set.
The next film that I worked on was “Half of a Yellow Sun.” I was the PA and I was the director’s assistant. So I learnt a lot of whole lot from everyone who was on set.
"Waiting for Hassana" was produced by Ifunanya Maduka and Uzodinma Iweala.
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