A short documentary film shot in Hausa language, which revolves around the experiences of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, was recently screened at the prestigious Sundance International Film Festival in the United States.
The 10-minute documentary movie, titled Waiting for Hassana, tells the story of the Chibok kidnap from a single perspective – the voice of one of the 57 captives who managed to escape from the clutches of the Boko Haram insurgents.
The lead character, Jessica, an escapee, shares her haunting account of a friendship violently interrupted by Boko Haram.
Produced by Uzodinma Iweala, son of former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Waiting for Hasanna was shot over the course of 2016 in Nigeria by acclaimed Nigerian cinematographer, Victor Okhai, and directed by Ifunanya Maduka.
Enthusing on theme and the idea behind Waiting for Hasanna, Maduka, who previously worked on Half of a Yellow Sun, and the documentary, Building a Dream, covering the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, said her latest work would expose the audience to the yet-to-be explored side of the February 14, 2014 abduction of the schoolgirls at Chibok in Borno State.
She said, “This film introduces a new point of entry into the Chibok kidnappings. We know the global story, now we hear the personal one. As the director, my aim was to visually and sonically plunge audiences into the psychological and emotional landscape of our subject.
“My hope is that audiences will leave, feeling inextricably linked to her life and her story — that it will become as much their story as it is hers. That radical intimacy is, to me, the basic and necessary function of art. It was also important to me that a Nigerian told this story, and I am proud that our crew reflects that drive.”
For Iweala, who is a trained surgeon from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, the premiere of Waiting for Hasanna, was a destination from the land of dream to that of reality.
He said, “Within every tragedy there are incredible stories of resilience. When my mother came to me and said that people need to hear about the strength of these young women who have suffered the worst and yet still have so much to offer the world, I said I would help to get that story out there. Waiting for Hasanna is the result of a team of Nigerians dedicated to telling our own stories to ourselves and the world.”
Nigerian-American Nnamdi Asomugha was the primary backer and executive producer of Waiting for Hasanna, while gallerist Edward Nahem, and Ann and Andrew Tisch, were also executive producers.