Siji Awoyinka’s Elder’s Corner was the opening film for the 2021 Africa in Motion film festival and the piece, was a certified stunner.
From enthralling and entertaining interviews, to captivating archival footage, Elder’s Corner follows Awoyinka as he travels back to his hometown of Lagos in Nigeria.
There, in an attempt to connect with his Nigerian roots, Awoyinka speaks to some of Nigeria’s most prominent musical pioneers from the fifties, sixties and seventies, who spearheaded the likes of Juju music, afrobeat, highlife and much more.
Awoyinka explores this history of Nigerian music through the backdrop and scope of the country’s social, political and economic history, exploring how music evolved and was influenced by the hardships and successes of Nigeria’s fluctuating history. Thus, Elder’s Corner details how the music scene altered throughout this growing and changing nation, showing ultimately, that for Nigeria and the Nigerian people, music was and still is a mirror for all else happening.
As Awoyinka connects past with present, and history with the personal, he also showcases his and friend Bill Lee’s venture of re-recording these Nigerian greats as they sing and record their old hit songs.
Thus, Elder’s Corner is informative, entertaining and at times, even poignant. Making the viewing experience not only insightful but entirely enjoyable. You will smile, laugh, be disturbed, mesmerized and of course, jig your shoulders at the incredible music played throughout the film. To say it’s an immersive experience and a far from un-forgettable one would be a correct start.
From start to finish, the film is incredibly engrossing. Even from the first line spoken, which goes, “It must be the devil’s trick, to be born in a country where neither soul nor talent are appreciated.” This line is like a hook, reeling you into the film within seconds, and it holds its grip right to the very end, a difficult skill to obtain, particularly in documentary film. Thus, Awoyinka flaunts clear precision, skill, and talent with this captivating festival opener.
This is not only where the films beauty lies though, it also lies in the fact that what Elder’s Corner is doing, is shedding light on a rather un-told and largely un-known history. And for that, the film bares the title of a necessary, refreshing shedding of light of an area of history that has been starved from the screen. It gives a nation, a culture and its peoples centre stage and that, is one of the films many accredits.
It is a rather beautiful thing, to see and learn first-hand of the importance of something to a nation, and Elder’s Corner is proof of that. This story, of the pinnacle of music to the Nigerian culture and people’s, and of a person re-connecting with their roots, makes for an uplifting, heart-warming piece of film that educates, empowers and informs, pulsating with passion, vibrancy and gorgeous tokens of memory.
And what I will leave you with, is a quote Siji says that the Lagos people believed, a quote that has subsequently stayed with me and that is, “If you make it through today, tomorrow will be better.”
Photo credit: selects.sheffdocfest.com