LFF Review: Juju Stories

We humans seem to be a really superstitious species. As civilisations have evolved and progressed these ‘old wives’ tales’ have gradually died out. Replaced by advances in science and medicine. However, in many rural areas traditions have survived. These are often transported to towns and cities through migration. This is the case in West Africa, where juju (or ju-ju) is still practiced by many. This folk magic centres around objects which can be imbued with power. This usually manifests itself in charms and spells.

Juju Stories brings together three tales from Nigeria which focus on these ideas and beliefs. In Michael Omonua’s ‘Love Potion’ a woman will do anything to get her dream man, but in reality does he really measure up to her expectations? In Abba Makama’s ‘YAM’ an urchin’s life takes a strange turn when he picks up money in the street. Finally, in C. J. Obasi’s ‘Suffer the Witch’ what seems like a close friendship might be something a lot more sinister.

Juju Stories gives its audience three intriguing glimpses of a modern Nigeria which still has a foot rooted in the past. Founded as a response to the commerciality of Nollywood, the Surreal 16 Collective consider their country through a different lens. Using a similar approach to Dogme 95, were introduced to a trio of disparate tales which place storytelling front and centre. It’s an unusual approach but one which affords these parables a fresh lease of life.

Juju Stories screens at London Film Festival.

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