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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New film ‘Statues Also Breathe’ brings Chibok Girls’ story to life

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French multidisciplinary artist Prune Nourry, in collaboration with Obafemi Awolowo University, has produced a movie in memory of Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Borno State in 2014.

The movie, which is titled ‘Statues Also Breathe’, was screened at the Nordic Hotel, Victoria Island on Thursday.

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Amina Ali, one of the Chibok School Girls who was kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 but later escaped, attended the movie screening alongside other members of the Chibok Community.

This film’s release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Chibok Girls’ abduction in Borno State.

The movie screening began with a question and answer session by journalist Kadaria Ahmed and two of the Chibok Girls and conversations with other members of the Chibok Community.

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Amina and Jummai, two Chibok girls out of Boko Haram captivity at the screening

Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped in 2014 by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram have been freed or rescued, but many remain missing.

But this isn’t Nourry’s first effort to honour these victims.

In November 2022, she collaborated with OAU’s Fine & Applied Arts Department for an exhibition showcasing 108 sculptures symbolising the abducted girls’ plight.

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The artist specialises in sculpture and explores many media, notably through installations that include photography, film and performance.

Statues Also Breath

Hosted by the SAB Art Foundation and the Chibok Parents Association, the film documents the creation of terracotta sculptures representing each of the 108 missing girls.

The 17-minute film opens with an aerial view of 108 sculptures—the number of girls still missing when the art project began.

The filmmaker tried to recreate what the girls look like today using pictures provided by their families, from their facial expressions to hairstyles and visible patterns.

The film delves into the artistic journey behind these sculptures, initially showcased in November 2022.

Inspired by ancient Nigerian Ife terracotta heads, these human-sized sculptures are a powerful homage to the abducted girls.

In the film, emotions ran high as heartbroken mothers reflected on life before their daughters’ abduction.

One mother nostalgically recalled how her daughter adorned her hair with henna and other adornments during Ramadan—a tradition that has been lost for a decade since her daughter’s disappearance.

In a particularly moving scene, a mother hesitated to see her daughter’s sculpted face, fearing the flood of painful memories it may bring.

A clip from ‘Statues Also Breathe’ film

Background

On the fateful night of April 14–15, 2014, tragedy struck as more than 276 young female students, aged between 16 and 18, were forcefully taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria.

Despite the terror they faced, 57 of these brave girls escaped by leaping from the trucks during their transportation.

Since then, there have been instances where the Nigerian Armed Forces successfully rescued some of the abducted girls.

Amina Ali, one of the missing girls, was found in May 2016. She reported that the remaining girls were still in Boko Haram captivity, but some had died.

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Courage against all odds

Speaking at the movie screening, Amina, one of the abducted girls who escaped in 2016, and Jummai Mutah, whose release was secured by the federal government, recalled their experience in captivity.

Speaking about ‘Statues Also Breathe’, Jummai said: “If some people saw this video or the documentary, it will make them help some people that are having some issues in other states”.

“Even for us, the Chibok girls, we are so happy, and it helped us because of our education and our family who are still in Chibok; this thing (the film) helped them a lot.”

Jummai also recalled how she remained strong and undeterred despite the punishment meted upon her for not getting married in Boko Haram’s custody.

“I have courage because I have my Bible with me. I am reading it always,” she said.

“After they said we should get married. They will give us some punishment. I was thinking, how can I get married to these people who kidnapped me from my parents and keep me in this bush? Who will collect my bride price in this bush? I am so discouraged and worried.

“Even I looked at them. How they were living and killing some people without fearing God, I think I cannot do this. It is better to be punished. But I kept in mind that one day I will have my way.”

On her part, Amina, 27, said she wandered in the forest for about a month with her child when she escaped from her abductors.

‘Statues Also Breathe’

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