Friday, February 13, 2015

TBFF Film Review - The Supreme Price

Hafsat Abiola is fresh off a plane returning home to Lagos Nigeria at the start of the film. Abiola has been out of the country for an extended period of time due to events that started in motion when her father M.K.O. Chief Abiola ran and won the presidency in a free election in 1993. Her dad was soon imprisoned after another in a series of military coups followed by the murder of her mother Kudirat in 1996. Her mother fought for women's rights in Nigeria and to free her husband as the rightful President of the country.  It's with this history and memories that Hafsat has returned to her homeland to take up a political post and her mother's cause.

Director Joanna Lipper's film explores the major political and social issues in the country. Lipper traces the countries' history going back to the 1960 independence from Britain followed by the 23 years of military rule spanning from 1966 until1993 when Hafsat's dad won the free election but never took office. She also looks at the social aspect starting with the Muslim tradition of a husband being allowed up to 4 wives. Hasfat's mother Kudirat was the second of her father's wives and relatively quiet until her services were called upon to campaign for her husband in her home territory during the 1993 election campaign.

Women in Nigeria were a key demographic in change. They lead the protest movement with their actions. Kudirat lead a workers strike at the lucrative government oil fields. They shut down the markets, staging naked protests uniting Nigerians across regional and religious differences. Dealing with religious attitudes and traditions is always a delicate issue. In the Muslim tradition women are directed to pray at home or even more specific in their bedrooms. Therefore for a woman prayer in your yard is not as desirable as on your from porch which is less desirable than in your living room not to mention at a Mosque where all of the men go to pray. This reality along with the four-wife tradition made it hard for women to strive for equality. Even Hafsat's brother who is up to three wives at the time of filming does not feel that his sister should be in politics. He admits that the men that are running things are not doing a good job but thinks that Nigeria can find better ones before needing to consider women.

Lipper presents historical footage of the different dictators over the years and media reported of the 1993 election as part of her film. She shows Hafast time at school in the United States then her comfortable home life in Belgium with her Husband and two young children before she makes the decision to return to home to accept a suburban Lagos government position. Lipper uses effective graphics and timelines to show the history of military dictators and the ethnic and religious diversity  of the country.

The Supreme Price is a comprehensive account of the volatile history of a relative recently independent nation. Hafsat Abiola the daughter of the only freely elected President gives complete access to her personal and families story to the director. The story presents the social and political facts and events of the country in a gripping and compelling manner.  It is a film that I can recommend.

*** out of 4.

The Supreme Price | Joanna Lipper | U.S.A. /Nigeria | 2014 | 75 minutes.

Tags: Africa, Nigeria, Documentary, Independence, Military Coup, War, Activism, Religion, Democracy, Protest.

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