“I dream to solve farmer-herder conflicts through films” – Female Nigerian UNESCO film winner

3 min read
Uren Makut

Female filmmakers are taking the world by storm. Dozens of them have been there making remarkable exploits since the beginning of filmmaking.

From 1943’s “Meshes of the Afternoon” Directed Maya Deren, to the electrifying “The Matrix” Directed by Lilly and Lana Wachowski, both women in 1999 and a host of others, women have shown that they are equally resourceful, if not better than their male counterparts in filmmaking.

The media might not often report their success stories. But women in filmmaking are by no chance relenting in changing the world using the power of the lens.

Recently, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase listed ten African women to contribute to a necessary global dialogue for peace, culture and development.

UN Officials announce Nara-film winners

The selected winners of the UNESCO-Nara Residency for Young African Female Filmmakers, will be coached by Ms Kawase and Senegalese female filmmaker Fatou Kandé Senghor in Tawara, in Nara Prefecture, from 29 March to 12 April 2020.

During the program, the female filmmakers will develop film projects which will be presented at the next Nara International Film Festival holding 18-22 September 2020 in Japan.

One of the only two Nigerian winners of the Residency, Miss Uren Makut, an experienced cinematographer and Director wants to use the chance to advance her passion to end violent conflicts which have plagued her home State, Plateau for over two decades.

“I want to use the power of the lens, to bring communities together – to inspire peaceful resolution of the deadly farmer-herder conflicts that have bedevilled us for years, through digital story telling,” said Uren.

Her vision is to inspire positive change in the whole of Nigeria, but as she told Government officials last week, “Charity begins at home, and Plateau State is a miniature Nigeria. I believe whatever ideas we can develop at this level will be beneficial to the entire country.”

Uren has experienced violence even while carrying out her film passion.

In June 2016, she was assaulted by government securities while filming a peaceful protest over the murder of a Paramount Chief in Jos, the capital of the Central Nigerian State, Plateau.

In May 2018, she narrowly survived a deadly ambush while filming for a documentary in an attacked village in Central Plateau State.

Uren fleeing violent assault by Police

This is aside losing relations to violence especially farmer-herder conflicts.

But instead of using the Residency and networks it might provide to escape to safe haven, Uren counts it a “rare opportunity to give back to the State by making its interest the centre of presentation.”

“Incomplete peace”

A gender activist, Kawthar Ahmed says conflict resolution processes cannot be complete without the active involvement of women.

Kawthar, also a female filmmaker and Project Manager of TechHer, a gender related nongovernmental organization believes women and men experience conflicts differently and should therefore jointly contribute to peace processes to provide holistic solutions.

But securing opportunities to participate in key decision making processes requires a demonstration of capacity, says Nigerian news Editor, Elizabeth Salami.

By committing to conflict resolution, Uren might be proving that women are equally capable of providing solutions to critical societal problems as men.

This could pave the way for the involvement of more women in peace processes especially in the Central Nigerian region currently battling farmer-herder conflicts.

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