Saturday 10th September, 1.45 – 3.45 – Didi Cheeka, Film-maker and critic, and Stefanie Schulte from the Arsenal Institute of Film & Video in Berlin will be in conversation, chaired by me. We will be talking following a presentation from Didi Cheeka on the discovery, in 2015, of a batch of films from Nigeria’s colonial/ post-colonial history in the abandoned rooms of the old Colonial Film Unit in Lagos, is the point of departure for a discussion about the find and the possibilities and challenges that arise from it for archival practice.
There they were, hundreds of rusted cans of films, like prisoners in a totalitarian dungeon. Their sudden presence triggered questions: How did they get there? What are in them? After a difficult process, pursued to the very end, access to this burial site of memory was obtained. Excavation revealed a treasure – approximately 10,000 cans of films in relatively good condition at the National Film, Video and Sound Archives in Jos. What processes of forgetting triggered this mass internment?
To remember is to accept that something no longer belongs to us – except as a memory. To remember is to attempt to come to terms with the past. Official history, however, tend to encourage collective forgetting, collective silence. From this imposed forgetting arises the title of this project – the idea of history as an Unclaimed Experience, that history, in a country where it has been banished from classrooms, could be reclaimed, not through purely academic practice, but, rather, through archiving as a site of public memory.
Lagos Film Society, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Nigeria and Arsenal–Institute of Film and Video, Berlin, has begun the initial process of excavation.
Location: King’s College London, King’s Building, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS, Room K-1.14