Remembering Nelson Mandela's Legacy With Five Short Films From 'The Power of Words' Series

Tribeca Film Institute's 'The Power of Words' series presents five short films inspired by the philosophy of Nelson Mandela

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in collaboration with Out Of Africa Entertainment, Tribeca Film Institute, and Montblanc, has produced five compelling short films based on the philosophy of the late Nelson Mandela in a new series titled The Power of Words. Conceived to celebrate the life and legacy of one of Africa’s most important revolutionary voices and ensure his radical ideas and political actions continue to have an impact on today’s youth, the initiative enlisted the creative talents of established directors and the next generation of filmmakers for its inaugural edition.

The visual storytellers selected to bring the words of Mandela to life as part of the project include conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, Indian filmmaker Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala), frequent Frank Ocean and James Blake collaborator Nabil Elderkin, Iranian director Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop), and award-winning documentarians Eva Weber (Black Out) and James Marsh (Man On Wire). The directors were then paired with emerging student filmmakers from the Tribeca Film Institute's Fellows program to conceive, direct and edit a thought-provoking cinematic reinterpretation of a quote from the South African visionary that most resonated with them.

The series consists of both fictional and documentary-style shorts shot in diverse locations across the world including Afghanistan, Jamaica, Hong Kong and the US. The resulting narratives explore themes such as self-discovery, the pursuit of truth and justice, breaking cycles that contribute to systemic poverty, and the desire for peace, stability and goodwill during one's twilight years. In Nair's A Fork, A Spoon, And A Knight, Ugandan teacher & chessmaster Robert Katende uses the strategic board game as an educational and community building tool while in Elderkin's Capture Land, a young Rastafari sets out to fulfill his life's purpose with a pilgrimage back to his ancestral land.

To commemorate the one year anniversary since Mandela's passing on December 5th 2013, The Power of Words will be making its US premiere at a special screening event tonight in New York City. Stream all five shorts below ahead of their debut at Neuehouse (110 East 25th Street). For more information, visit the official website and Vimeo channel.

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Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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