Natalie Gravenor | Monday April 7th, 2014
Nigeria has recently surpassed South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. The West African giant (with almost 175 million inhabitants also Africa’s most populous country, the seventh most populous in the world) is a major supplier of oil and has the world’s third largest annual film output, nicknamed “Nollywood” in rhyming reference to the film industries based in Los Angeles and Mumbai. Nevertheless, corruption and political instability – one result of the colonial legacy and the uneasy co-existence of nine major and countless less populous ethnicities as well as often conflicting Christian and Muslim groups – are what most people associate with Nigeria. These problems exist and overshadow Nigeria’s enormous economic potential, which ideally at least should improve the social situation of the entire country, not just the elite. (And it doesn’t help image- or otherwise that Nigeria has recently joined Uganda in passing draconian legislature against homosexuality.) Filmmaker, curator and Berlinale Forum selection committee member Dorothee Wenner, a recognized expert on sub-Sahara African cinema, has chosen an unorthodox approach to address Nigerian business relations with the West, specifically Germany. Her documentary DRAMA CONSULT follows three businessmen from the Nigerian metropolis Lagos on a trip to Germany to find partners and investors. They are supported by two consultants from the agency “DramaConsult” which was founded expressly for the purpose of the film. The real-life entrepreneurs and their advisors are put into a lab situation – Wenner selected the businessmen from a wide call for entries and set them up with German contacts she researched. The results as portrayed in the film, however, unfolded as we see them. “A cinematic intervention” and “a film not about business, but as business” is how DRAMA CONSULT has been described. Wenner has blurred the boundary between fact and fiction in new ways and demonstrates the impact cinema can have for change. She’s also challenged stereotypes about Nigeria (and Africa in general), opened a space for dialogue… and facilitated some sustainable business relationships in the process. In addition to banking center Frankfurt and seaport city Hamburg, Berlin is a port of call for the five visitors from Lagos. Among the recognizable sights are the Hansaviertel, Neukölln, Alexanderplatz and a club. Exblicks, the monthly film series with documentaries and fiction films about the capital city, will screen DRAMA CONSULT on April 8, 8:30 p.m., at Lichtblick Kino, Kastanienallee 77, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. Dorothee Wenner will be attending. In cooperation with Exberliner magazine and Lichtblick Kino.