Think of writing a story of insurgency in Nigeria as being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
It is a matter of religion on one end, the government's incompetence on the other and we might never be truly ready to face the realities of both squarely. Regardless, these stories need to be told even at the cost of antagonism from the keepers of both divides.
In 'The Milkmaid', Desmond Ovbiagele dares to not walk on eggshells especially with how he narrates the painful reality of insurgency.
From its opening scene, the story, backed by a striking score, steadily encapsulates its audience in a familiar dystopia. A teenage girl cries out for help for her injured brother. In a flash, the community's men appear with sticks ready to protect their own.
Unfortunately, this is an ambush and the young woman, the bait. While this scene does a fine job of setting the mood of the film, it also aptly captures the government's ineptness in the area of security. And this hangs over 'The Milkmaid' like a dark cloud.
As the story progresses, the most poignant feeling becomes that of helplessness. The lead character, Aisha (Anthonieta Kalunta) attempts to rescue her sister, Zainab (Maryam Booth), from religious insurgents who attacked their village.
Aisha and Zainab become symbols embodying the tragic experiences of young female victims of insurgency. The trauma of violence, starvation and the helplessness of birthing children conceived from rape are themes amply narrated in 'The Milkmaid'. Its audience will realize that, like real-life victims, there can be no succour or freedom in sight.
While 'The Milkmaid' calls for sobriety, the detail paid to its production is exciting to discover. Shot in Taraba by Yinka Edward, the film captures the scenic beauty of the state's breathtaking mountains while bringing to the fore the rich and colourful culture of the Fulani tribe.
Undoubtedly, 'The Milkmaid' is a firmly narrated protest, one that points to both the government and the governed. Another important message is how the story establishes a casual effect in its resolution. The film's villain, Dangana eventually pays the price for his heinous crimes against humanity and religion. It is a satisfying end for all.