Documentary showcase features thought-provoking stories from the School of Journalism

By Costa Maragos Posted: October 18, 2017 12:00 p.m.

Busayo Osobade (2nd from right), a School of Journalism master’s student, filming her documentary in her home country Nigeria. She visits an area  of Nigeria where hundreds of thousands of children die each year from preventable deaths.
Busayo Osobade (2nd from right), a School of Journalism master’s student, filming her documentary in her home country Nigeria. She visits an area of Nigeria where hundreds of thousands of children die each year from preventable deaths. Photo courtesy of Toolu Oyebanji

According to the aid agency UNICEF, about 150,000 children in Nigeria, under the age of five, die annually from preventable diseases.

This ongoing tragedy is the subject of a documentary being shown at the U of R on Thursday, October 19, as part of the School of Journalism’s annual Documentary Showcase.

Sloppy Shoulders: Children Who Come and Go is produced and directed by Busayo Osobade, a master’s of journalism student, originally from Nigeria.

“These deaths have become the norm in Nigeria and nobody wants to challenge that,” says Osobade. “The children are also victims of a culture that says when a child is sick, they are destined to die. It is seen as a natural thing. It is bizarre.”

Osobade focusses on the Wumi village in Northern Nigeria where you meet Hope Madaki, a 12-year-old girl. Madaki, like hundreds of thousands of other children, is vulnerable to the deadly diarrheal infection because of the filthy drinking water in the area.

“As I was working in the field, this girl kept following me. She wanted to get involved but she was very shy,” says Osobade. “I started to chat with her. Like so many children she was vulnerable to disease.”

Osobade said she can’t even wash with the water the community drinks.

The documentary touches on the girl’s fears, but also her hopes and dreams to one day become a lawyer and return to her community to help others. The documentary also focusses on local people, particularly parents who have lost more than one child to disease, and the complex reasons as to why so little is being done to prevent these deaths.

Osobade’s documentary is her master’s thesis project, which she proposed to do when she started the journalism program.

“The program has been really good. I wouldn’t have come this far without my experience at the School of Journalism,” she says.

Osobade, who has a degree in English language from Nigeria, will convocate October 20. She plans on returning to Nigeria and is working on finding an audience for her documentary back home. Osobade’s documentary is one of four that will be shown to the public October 19 starting at 7 p.m. at the Research and Innovation Theatre on campus (RI 101).

Highway of Tears Side Photo
Highway of Lost Years explores the sad legacy of the missing or murdered women from along Highway 16 in Northern B.C. Photo courtesy of Tennessa Wild

Students at the School of Journalism have produced documentaries over the last few years that have been broadcast on CBC-TV, garnered nominations and have been selected for official screenings at film festivals.

This year's documentaries follow past successes.

“These documentaries are some of our best yet and setting aside ‘student’ produced, they are professional works of filmmaking,” says Trevor Grant, a lecturer at the School of Journalism who oversaw these projects. “The documentaries this year probe issues, hold people to account and importantly explore the strengths and weaknesses of the human characters through the documentarians’ perspective and interpretation.”

DOCUMENTARY SHOWCASE - SYNOPSIS

Highway of Lost Years
Producer/Director: Tennessa Wild

The "Highway of Tears" is a strip of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia where dozens of women have been reported missing or found murdered. Forty years after the first incidence, an inquiry was launched by the BC government. The documentary investigates a legacy of inaction and the pain and suffering of the families of missing or murdered women.

Falling Between the Cracks
Producer/Director: Jeannelle Mandes

This documentary investigateS the absence of support for autistic children and their families in remote areas of Saskatchewan. The documentary explores the stark, often frightening, world of raising an autistic child, while investigating the institutions that are failing to support these mothers and children.

Briarpatch: A Classic Saskatchewan Throwback
Producer: Michael Joel-Hansen

This documentary explores the history of one of Saskatchewan’s longest-running independent magazines. Despite the challenging environment facing print media, Briarpatch manages to persevere. Joel-Hansen looks at the challenges facing alternative media and journalism as a whole.

Sloppy Shoulders: Children Who Come and Go
Producer/Director: Busayo Osobade

Twelve-year-old Hope Madaki, like hundreds of thousands of Nigerian children, is vulnerable to lethal diarrheal infection because she is forced to fetch and drink unclean water. This documentary explores the human consequences of government inaction and the cultural myth that certain children are pre-destined to die and that nothing can be done to save them.

School of Journalism Documentary Showcase
Date:       Thursday, October 19
Time:       7 p.m.
Location: Research and Innovation Place Theatre (RI 101)
This event is free and open to the public.