In my last blog of 2021, I want to talk about IDFA 2021! Previously, I shared all about Rome and Venice and it was amazing to travel again! As some of you may know, I moderated for the first time this past October. If you would have told me that I would one day moderate an event in the Netherlands, I would have never believed you! Especially the program we did for IDFA with the screening of Breakfast in Kisumu at OSCAM. For real, even thinking back, it was just all surreal. All my friends were there to support me, it went very well and it gave me a whole different type of confidence I didn’t know I needed. Let’s talk all about IDFA 2021, Breakfast in Kisumu and much more!
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, also known as IDFA, is the world’s largest documentary filmfestival. It is held annually here in Amsterdam. And over the course of approximately 12 days, there are a lot of documentary screenings and events in addition to the documentaries. Before working with IDFA, I hadn’t really been into the festival and maybe it’s because I don’t live in Amsterdam. However, I am glad I got the opportunity to work with IDFA! Not only did I moderate during one of their events, I also was given FULL access to the Filmfestival. Which I will of course, tell you all about, but first: let’s talk about Breakfast in Kisumu and how it came to be.
One of the events and programs IDFA organizes are the IDFA Meets. The IDFA Meets is a program for the new generation of documentary-watchers. They collaborate with guest curators who choose an IDFA documentary and try to connect that documentary around an audience. Of course it’s all about showing different perspectives and creative expressions of curators in the Netherlands. During an IDFA Meets you can expect a program after watching a documentary such as performances, a discussion or something else. We watched the documentary Breakfast in Kisumu by Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell and our IDFA Meets was curated by Munganyende.
Breakfast in Kisumu by Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell
Rebecca is a retired international swimmer turned filmmaker. Breakfast in Kisumu is a tribute to her late father, Rok Ajulu, who died in 2016. Rebecca’s father was a leading Kenyan activist and academic and involved in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Breakfast in Kisumu is lead by an intimate conversation between Rebecca and her father. While we listen to her father’s story, she actually travels the different countries he lived, worked and studied in, that come up in the conversation. Watch the trailer for Breakfast in Kisumu here.
IDFA 2021 Meets Munganyende
Munganyende was the curator of the experience I moderated. She is a feminist author, a performance artist, entrepreneur and so much more! She launched her book Liberté, Égalité, Beyoncé earlier this year, which is a collection composed by her. Munganyende chose the documentary Breakfast in Kisumu and curated a great experience around it at OSCAM. If you don’t remember OSCAM, check out this vlog. The idea was to create a typical African living room as we would watch Breakfast in Kisumu over a traditional Kenyan breakfast.
Besides me, Munganyende asked Bodil Ouedraogo and Doru Loboka to be a part of this. Bodil Ouedraogo is a fashion designer and Doru Loboka is a visual philosopher. Bodil’s research has been rooted in her bi-cultural identity that is shared between Burkina Faso and the Netherlands. She has recently launched a collab with Patta called “To Blend Together”. Doru works as an art director, image researcher and set designer. She is also currently working on a book about non-Western perspectives on colors, which is very interesting!
Breakfast in Kisumu at OSCAM
We started off with the Kenyan breakfast and an introduction by yours truly! I introduced the program, the speakers, all my new-found sisters and myself. If you want to see how I did, scroll down below for the video! Munganyende performed and shared one of her written pieces with us. Then we watched Breakfast in Kisumu. Afterwards, we Zoomed with Rebecca who was unfortunately unable to join us. In preparation, we assigned the theme Displacement & Exile to Rebecca. We asked her how she relates to displacement and exile. We talked about how identity plays a role in her life, but also how it is portrayed in the documentary. The talk with Rebecca was amazing!
Then, we continued with Doru, for her it was interesting to talk about Holding space for yourself. Especially when you consider her professional work. Doru shared her views and experiences with holding space for yourself, how this looks like for her and we asked her to relate this to her work as well. Next, we talked all about African visual culture & language with Bodil. Of course, we wanted to know all the details about how she uses her bi-cultural identity when she creates fashion pieces. But we also wanted to know about interesting trends she has seen in fashion and what she looks forward to.
Less than a month after moderating it was time for IDFA 2021! I can still not believe that I was able to see the movies I did! Not only that, but I was also able to actually attend some other IDFA Meets. I met a lot of new people, which is crazy since we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. For me, I think that the pandemic has actually been very freeing. An example: all the documentaries and events I visited, I went to alone. There was no need for me to ask peole to join me and I was perfectly fine going alone. Other than that I was able to see the great staff of IDFA who guided us through the Breakfast in Kisumu experience from start to finish. Now let’s talk about some more documentaries!
The first documentary I watched was related to Senegal (surprise, surprise). Yoon follows Mbaye Sow between his two home countries Portugal and Senegal. He works as a courier between the two and he packs up his car with goods from Portugal and drives all the way to Senegal. In between, he gets phonecalls from people who check in on him and the goodies he transports. For me it was interesting to watch Yoon, mostly because I never imagined people doing that. However, when you are in Senegal people always talk about new goodies arriving. Or ordering things online and finding someone to bring it to Senegal either by freight container, airplane or car. Very interesting! Watch the trailer for Yoon here.
The Last Shelter
Then I watched the Last Shelter. At the edge of the Sahara desert there is a last shelter that is a safe space for African immigrants who make their way to Libya and Europe. There are two young girls from Burkina Faso who dream of a life outside of their native country. However, at the shelter, they are confronted by the stories of all those who headed to Europe before them and failed. When you consider my work as an interpreter, this documentary is important to me. I feel like if people are informed about the dangers of coming to Europe, they wouldn’t come. However, that is not always the case. Also there is a Nigerian proverb: “Do not tell a child not to touch a hot lamp, the lamp will tell him“. Sadly. Watch the trailer for The Last Shelter here.
Lastly, I watched Delphine’s Prayers. This documentary was the most raw one. 30-year old Delphine from Cameroon, but now living in Belgium tells her own life story. Which is one marked by sexual violence and trauma. At 13, she was raped and got pregnant. In response to this, her father and family basically shunned her. From there, Delphine talks about her journey and how she may or may not have used sex as a way to survive. The way Delphine tells her story is very intense, impressive but mostly touching. You can feel her emotions, anger, hurt and desperation for better. Even though she is in Europe right now, she is not at all happy. And I wish the girls from The Last Shelter could see this part of immigration. Watch the trailer for Delphine’s Prayer’s here.
All in all, I was very happy about the work we put in for Breakfast in Kisumu. Teamwork really made the dream work and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. Other than that, IDFA 2021 was AMAZING! Did you know that you could just buy a ticket for each film and event for about €8? That’s even cheaper than a movie theatre ticket here. I really hope to go next year, because it was amazing!
Have you ever been to IDFA? Another documentary film festival? Let me know in the comments!
This was my LAST BLOG for this year! I want to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR in advance. Be safe out there, don’t stunt with fireworks, but definitely ENJOY