Daughters of Chibok, a documentary by Nigerian filmmaker, Joel Kachi Benson, weekend, clinched the ‘Best Virtual Reality Story’ award at the Venice Film Festival.
The documentary which premiered at the festival, tells the story of Yana Galang, whose daughter was among the 276 girls kidnapped in April 2014 from their school dormitory in Chibok, northeast Nigeria.
The film’s director, Joel Kachi Benson, in his acceptance speech, said, “With this VR film, all I wanted to do was to take the world to the women of Chibok, who five years after their daughters had been kidnapped, are still living with the incredible pain of their absence. I felt it was wrong for us to forget or even doubt and move on.”
Benson, who runs a virtual reality film studio, VR360, in Lagos, Nigeria, had told CNN that he stumbled on making the film about the missing girls out of curiosity to find out more about the infamous kidnappings for himself.
“When the story broke out years ago, there was a lot of talk about it. Some people thought it was fake; others thought it was political. I guess my original reason for making this film was curiosity, I wanted to get the information myself,” he added.
Benson said the crew spent several days in the small village in Borno State speaking to families of those affected by Boko Haram abductions.
He said, “I have always felt like my experiences in the northeast were not fully captured. But the moment I wore a VR headset for the first time, I knew I had found a way to engross people in my stories.
“When my name was announced as the winner and I walked up on stage, it was the most surreal thing ever. Almost like an out of body experience. But I knew this was an opportunity to remind the world that Chibok is still here and the story doesn’t have an ending yet. And so we must not forget.”
“One of the most shocking things I found out was that none of the parents had received any form of support since the incident. Not therapy, not psychosocial support, nothing.”
Benson said he wants to use the film to create awareness of the plight of the Chibok mothers who are still waiting for their daughters’ return. They also want to provide modern farming tools to help the women sustain their farms and create a decent standard of living.
“I know it will never replace a missing child, but it will make a hard life just a little easier,” Benson told CNN.