Film screening followed by discussion with director Alain Kassanda, Leye Komolafe, and Abosede George
This documentary follows the students at the university of Ibadan, a big city in south-western Nigeria, who meet every Thursday at their film club, which provides a safe place where students come to watch and discuss films. The film club features works that touch on intersectionality, decolonization, feminist struggles, LGBT struggles, ethnic minorities, student rights and elections, thereby providing the so-called “Coconut Head Generation” with a space from which they can grapple with Nigerian society and the world at large. The disparaging expression, which casts the youth as lazy and obtuse, is claimed back and repurposed by the students who recast it as a strength and affirm their critical minds. For the students, the cinema becomes a space for self-governed education where members learn to fight and organize. Alain Kassanda follows the student uprising against police violence and the abuse committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (#EndSARS) which flared up in October 2020. At the time that the students are watching the films of Med Hondo, Mahamat Saleh Haroun and John Akomfrah, they become the protagonists of an activist film, which captures their growing awareness of reality and their transformation into actors of change.
Born in Kinshasa, Alain Kassanda left the Democratic Republic of Congo for France at the age of 11. After studying communication he has been staging cycles of movie screenings and several film festivals in various Parisian theaters since 2003. He has also been the film programmer for the movie-theater Les 39 Marches in Sevran, near Paris, for five years. Alain Kassanda then moved to Ibadan, in southwestern Nigeria in 2015. Trouble Sleep (2020) is the starting point of a triptych dedicated to Ibadan. His work Colette and Justin (2022) premiered at IDFA and won the Gilda Vieira De Mello Award at FIFDH. His latest work Coconut Head Generation (2023) was selected at Cinéma du réel and at New Directors/New Films from Lincoln Center.
Leye Komolafe is one of the protagonist of the film. In October 2020, he participated in the student uprising against police violence (#EndSARS). He is now doing a Ph.D in Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.
Abosede George is Tow Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Barnard College and Columbia University.
This screening is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française and the Institute of African Studies.