Joy, It's Nina
JOY IT'S NINA - Public Screenings...
January 2013 - Georgetown, Guyana
May 2013 - IBW (Images of Black Women) Film Festival. London, UK
June/July 2013 - ZIFF (Zanzibar International Film Festival) Zanzibar, Tanzania
June 2013 - San Francisco Black Film Festival - Runner up 'Best African Film', USA
August 2013 - IIFF (International Images Festival for Women) Harare, Zimbabwe
October 2013 - BHM (Black History Month) Narratives of Diaspora. Winchester, UK
September 2013 - TIWANI CONTEMPORARY (Art Connect Film)
September 2013 - PORTOBELLO Film Festival. London, UK
October 2013 - BHM (Black History Month) Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, Scotland
October 2013 - AiM Africa in Motion Film Festival. Glasgow, Scotland.
November 2013 - AFRIFF Africa International Film Festival. Calabar. Nigeria.
November 2013 - LFFF London Feminist Film Festival. London, UK
December 2013 - ADIFF African Diaspora International Film Festival. New York. USA
February 2014 - Dis-Play Performance Research Forum. Goldsmiths University. London.
February 2014 - Hayti Heritage Film Festival. North Carolina. USA
February 2014 - Black History Month University of California. USA
March 2014 - Women's History Month. Docwatchers Documentary Series. Harlem. USA
March 2014 - Colours of the Nile International Film Festival. Addis Ababa. Ethiopia.
May 2014 - BE.BOP. Spiritual Revolutions & the scramble for Africa. Berlin + Copenhagen
September 2014 - LIGHTS, CAMERA, AFRICA!!! Film Festival. Legacy. Lagos, Nigeria.
October 2015 - BLACK HISTORY MONTH. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. London.
October 2015 - OPEN DOORS NEWARK. Exhibition. New Jersey, USA.
October 2015 - VOW Film Festival. (Voice of Women) Hospital Club. London.
February 2016 - CinemAfrica Film Festival. Stockholm, Sweden.
34 minute mixed genre short film: performance/drama/experimental/documentary
Director/Producer/Camera/Editing: Jane Thorburn
One of the main research aims was to investigate a different form of filmmaking by developing the film through the act of making it. We shot most of the images first by improvising around themes and locations rather than stories.
JOY, IT’S NINA explores a contemporary visual language that centers around a female African body and how she inhabits an alien and sometimes hostile landscape. Through performance & environment the film discusses identity politics and the place of a female individual in two different societies. The experience of female migrants from the African continent is rarely represented and the subject of their emotional and psychological life is hardly touched on at all except in relation to men.
In our respective roles as director/camera (Jane Thorburn) and performer (Joy Elias-Rilwan) we set out to discover what common themes connect the emotional life of Nigerian women living in the UK who have experienced loss of family, place and social disorientation.
We sought to find a working method and visual language in order to create a multi-layered film that would resonate with an audience emotionally and visually rather than literally. We wanted to discover a method of featuring the real life experiences of Elias-Rilwan appearing as herself and as a performer portraying other West African women from different socio-economic backgrounds.
By including voice recordings left for Elias-Rilwan by her friend and self-proclaimed ‘spiritual mother’, the singer Nina Simone, we asked whether there are experiences that are common to women across time and space and how this might affect them emotionally. Nina Simone wrote that she only felt truly at home in Africa despite being born in America.
After a period of research and discussion we started to improvise on camera around themes. We avoided literal interpretation or reconstruction and evaluated each shoot before deciding how to create the next. In this way we slowly built up an archive of images in parallel to, but independent of, short texts based on Joy Elias Rilwan’s own life and statements by female migrants in newspaper reports.
During the editing process the images were re-interpreted in juxtaposition with the texts. A number of versions of scenes were created by using the same material in different combinations. Some were purely visual interpretations while others supported or re-interpreted the text. The voice messages from Nina Simone were treated in the same way.
At this stage we created more narratively conventional scenes on location in Nigeria as ‘back story’ for the various women and in order to contrast their isolation in England with the rich cultural and family life in Nigeria. Through a continual process of re-evaluation the scenes were placed onto one time line to create a multi layered interpretation of shifting realities.
It is important that the less quantifiable aspects of migration are explored in order to provide insight and awareness of women's situations and backgrounds and to promote better understanding in host countries. Through the performer, imagery and landscape the film invites the audience to consider our perception of behaviour. Do we in the UK perceive those who are uprooted and have different cultural beliefs as strange and ‘other’ or are there experiences common to all women with which we can identify?
Dedicated website: www.JoyItsNina.com
© Copyright Jane Thorburn / ARC Net Ltd 2012