Award winning Virtual filmmaker Joel Kachi Benson is the first African to win Virtual Reality Award at Venice International Film Festival. In 20 minutes chat with ZIVANG team Joel shares his inspiration, curiosity to give voices through film, acceptance of the Virtual Reality Film In Nigeria.
CAN YOU BRIEFLY INTRODUCE YOURSELF
My name is Joel Kachi Benson, I am a documentary film maker and Virtual Reality content creator, I have been making documentaries for 10 years, I started making Virtual Reality Documentaries in 2018.
WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE PRODUCTION OF DAUGHTERS OF CHIBOK FILM?
The Inspiration behind Production of Daughters of Chibok VR film stem from my curiosity and desire to know more about the Chibok Kidnappings, My focused switched to doing something for women of the missing girls, They have not received therapy or supports when the 276 girls where kidnapped 5 years ago April in 2014.
There were lot of different reports, the government, International & Local Press were giving too many reports. From the story telling perspective I was always curious, I wanted to find out for myself the real truth, I never got the opportunity to go to Chibok until early this year when I making another project which took us to 6 states in the North EAST. We passed through Chibok and passed a few days, That gave me the opportunity to speak with the parents of Kidnapped Chibok girls. From what I heard, decided to make a documentary out of it.
THE FILM DAUGHTERS OF CHIBOK WAS IT PRODUCED AS PART OF KNOWING MORE ABOUT KIDNAPPINGS IN THE NORTH OR GIVING THE CHIBOK GIRLS MOTHERS VOICE AGAIN?
Yes, It started as that knowing about the kidnappings, However it more about telling their stories and amplifying their voices. There were so many campaigns centered around bringing back our girls,Those campaigns are valid, 33 parents have died as a result of trauma directly linked to the loss of their children, while we are clamoring for the girls to come back we should remember their parents. The purpose of this film is to see how we can show our support for this mothers.
HOW IS THE ACCEPTANCE OF VIRTUAL REALITY FILM IN NIGERIA?
In terms of Virtual Reality Film in Nigeria, Its early days here in Nigeria, For a lot of people it was novel experience and watching the film in VR, which was my original intent than watching it regular 2D film. It made people closer to story, take them closer to Chibok. So far, the acceptance is great, We have been getting positives comments from people who watched the VR Film.
YOU WERE THE FIRST AFRICAN VIRTUAL FILM MAKER TO WIN BEST STORY AT 2019 VENICE FESTIVAL, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
It was selected for Lion Award for Best Story at the 2019 Venice Festival, It gave credibility to our Chibok girls campaign, That have given the mother/ Leader of Chibok girls Yaya Galang a voice again and have taken her to the global stage. For Example she was invited to CNN, New York through the United Nations General Assembly, met with United Nations General Secretary to mention but a few . The first African film maker in Virtual reality film production to win the award for the first time. We are very happy about that.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES OF SHOOTING THE FILM?
The major challenges of shooting film in the North is the Risk involved of travelling down to Chibok, For instance we couldn’t go directly. We had to travel through a longer routes to Chibok because of insurgent problem. Summoning the courage to Chibok for security reasons, The case of trust from the Chibok mothers who feel have taken advantage of them using their stories for so many things instead helping them bring back their girls. We had to stay for days letting them know our intentions and build trust then to free to open up.
ASIDE WORK, HOW DO YOU RELAX YOURSELF?
I spend time with my family. Because I travel a lot, they don’t get to see me as much, so I try to spend more time at home, hang out with the kids, wifey, maybe read a book while they play