Prolific director Nadine Ibrahim on seeing beauty in the ugly
How would you say the journey has been for you in terms of making short movies? What was the motive behind it and what has been your most challenging situation so far?
I am a 23-year-old filmmaker based in Nigeria. I have one goal – To tell compelling stories visually, imprinting my creative mark on each project I work on. Coming from a multi cultural background, I have an international outlook, which has provided me with a vast knowledge of culture and media representations, which is what frames my work today.
I get inspired by people and stories I come across in my life, which reflect in my films. I started making short films in the university of Gloucestershire, UK. When I was there, the filmmaking process was a lot easier because I had easy access to equipment from the university and there were platforms in which you could use to find a cast and crew such as star now and casting call pro. So I didn’t have a hard time putting a team together to get the job done.
When I moved to Nigeria however it became a lot more challenging because I was new to the industry and had not met a lot of people I could collaborate with. So I found myself searching for like-minded people on social media and through family and friends.
In Nigeria there are a lot of people willing to work but not enough avenues to learn the craft of filmmaking on a professional level so you meet a lot of people that are self taught, through watching videos on YouTube, watching making of movies or reading articles online.
At the end of the day they are the people you end up working with because those you meet that do have the skills at an expert level are busy working on their own projects or they charge you a significant amount of money which in my case I couldn’t afford because most of my funding was going towards equipment rentals, locations and cast. Which brings me to my other challenge, which is funding.
I find people are reluctant to fund films here in Nigeria because a lot of the time you don’t make your money back. The films end up being passion projects and you end up putting a film out there that doesn’t generate much income.
So I would say those are my two main challenges, finding a crew that could give you the level of professionalism you are looking for and the quality of work as well and also funding.
How does your award winning movie “Through Her Eyes” highlight the quote “seeing the beauty in the ugly” and what inspired the idea to create that movie?
Like every country in the world Nigeria is facing a lot of challenges and being a Nigerian myself I felt helpless watching the news everyday and hearing about the horrific suicide bombings that were happening in the north. I decided to do some research into it and found most of these bombings were being executed by young girls. This got to me, so I decided to express myself the best way I can which is through film.
There was a lot of media covering the stories but not once did they tell the story from the point of view I was seeing it through. There was boko haram and there were the victims that died in the attacks but no one highlighted that those young girls carrying out the attacks were victims too. What goes through a young girls mind before she takes her life and the lives of many others? Children are not born terrorists so we must try to see how and why they get to that point.
I knew I wanted to tell this devastating story and being a filmmaker I also knew it needed to be beautifully shot, almost poetically.
So I made sure although the subject and narrative was dark, how I captured it on camera would be visually compelling accompanied by gripping sounds and music to carry the story along. It’s also about addressing the life of hope and opportunities that were missed because of the path the character inadvertently took to the dark side of life. That’s why I say seeing the beauty in the ugly.
In an interview with “The Guardian”, you mentioned that you got into film making to tell stories and generate awareness about what is currently happening in the world. Looking at the impact and recognition your movie received, would you say that goal has been achieved?
My passion is being able to tell peoples stories. I feel a lot of people don’t have the voice or opportunities to be heard and I love being able to create an avenue for that.
Through her eyes received a lot of recognition I feel because of the subject it was addressing as well as the quality of production in terms of the film itself.
I would say with that particular film my goal was reached to an extent because it got people talking and thinking about the issue from a different perspective and I found people asking how could they help and what could they do to address the matter. Its sad because even I don’t have the answers but by doing my bit in getting the conversation going and using my work as a medium to educate people I think it’s a start.
What should the world expect from you this year? Are there any new projects you are working on?
I am currently working on another short film called ‘Tolu’. It is a film that addresses gender equality, poverty and self-belief. It is about a young girl that decides to step out of the norm in her community and prove to her family that she has the power to do what the community deemed for men only.
I am also working on a documentary on Nigerian culture and history addressing Tribal Marks. I hope to travel around the country to gain an insight into why tribal marks were so important in the past and how relevant they are now.
I will also be working on my first feature film, which I hope to release in the near future. It will definitely be subject driven, rich in the Nigerian culture and of the drama genre.