Daughters of Chibok (Joel ‘Kachi Benson, 2019)

Art serving consciousness

If the world’s mysery was put together in a virtual reality short film, the spectator would most probably die of a heart attack.

Daughters of Chibok is the fifth virtual reality artwork I have had the opportunity to view in the comfort of my room thanks to the catalogue proposed by the Phi Centre with the PHI VR TO GO event created specifically during the lockdown. For the trailer, make sure to set up the quality of the image to the highest and to play with the screen for a better experience!

“On April 14, 2014, the sleepy agrarian town of Chibok, in North East Nigeria, was thrust into the global spotlight when the dreaded terrorist group Boko Haram, stormed the town at night and abducted 276 teenage schoolgirls from their dormitories. Daughters of Chibok deals with the aftermath of the kidnappings, and explores important topical global issues of gender rights and the right to education.”

  • Summary of the film from the website of the Phi Centre

In this documentary artwork, we are directly transported physically (well sort of, but you know what I mean by now) to Chibok to meet one of the mothers who lost her daughter during the attack, and whom we follow during eleven minutes as if we were a journalist. Some archival television footage is also added to the film. I believe in fate, except for when I write. Here, virtual reality applies very well as we are in Chibok, place of the tragedy, five years after it took place, and technology here serves documentation for an event one must not forget. It serves documentation but does not replace it. It makes it original, however, this originality could be perceived as an attraction for the spectator who might want to explore it or play with it instead of focusing on what the mother tells and endures. For that matter, some scenes go by a bit too fast, and as the virtual reality technology offers us a 360-degree view of Chibok, we would like to enjoy it to the fullest. One camera angle is particularly innovative when we accompany the mother to the field, because at that moment, we find ourselves right above her! If we look down, it is the top of her head at a 90-degree high angle shot that we see! Such a beautiful use of the virtual reality technology here compared to the other more classical shots that look like a combination of shots from a classical documentary. Not a very realistic shot for the record but so innovative! The ending credits are original, with a black screen and photos of the young girls kidnapped with their names written in white on the black screen that cover the 360 degrees of the space. The editing is also interesting. It allows the spectator to feel the tough daily reality of this poor woman who tries to the best of her abilities to enjoy life again without even knowing if her daughter is dead or alive. Despite the dark side of this tragedy, the colors of this film are bright and luminous, just as if to show that hope always wins. But this artwork is much more than a virtual reality documentary film, it is a genuine contemplation of the power of remembrance that never dies! I would give four stars to this film.

Would this film have such a strong impact had it been produced under the traditional documentary form? Probably. Nevertheless, it is definitely a very original idea!


Head image: Wikipedia