Film focused on human rights shortlisted for NGO Film Festival

CliFF film reel image

A short film produced as part of a York University project with its partners and funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has been shortlisted for the NGO International Film Festival.

The film Help! is part of the Research/Dissemination Network on the Development of the African Union’s African Human Rights Action Plan (AHRAP-NET) project. The film was produced through the project’s Outdooring AHRAP initiative and is funded through a $41,960 Partnership Engage Grant provided by SSHRC to promote the goals of the African Human Rights Action Plan (AHRAP) and mobilize Canadian research (and visa versa) on AHRAP across states situated in sub-Saharan Africa.

Obiora Okafor
Obiora Okafor

AHRAP-NET is a major SSHRC-funded partnership development, research and dissemination project covering six countries relating to Canadian/African human rights engagements. AHRAP-NET is co-led by Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Obiora Okafor, who is also the Burling Chair of International Law at John Hopkins University, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies sociology Professor Sylvia Bawa and Osgoode PhD Candidate Jake Okechukwu Effoduh.  

Help! tells a story of Hadiza, a young Nigerian housewife who is heavily pregnant, but keeps tabs on the activities of a neighbouring family with a 13-year-old house help called Blessing. Hadiza notices that Blessing does not attend school and does all the chores for the neighbours. Hadiza also believes Blessing is being maltreated and abused by the neighbours. Hadiza tries to intervene but experiences a medical emergency that almost terminates her pregnancy. Hadiza does not give up on her efforts to ensure that Blessing is enrolled in school and that the abuse the little girl experiences is put to an end. The film is one of three short films arising from the project with Okechukwu Effoduh serving as the academic liaison between the project’s principal investigators and the film industry, as well as the executive producer of the film.

Jake Okechukwu Effoduh

“This film validates the power of storytelling for knowledge mobilization. It demonstrates a positive impact in the use of cinematography to engage a non-academic and a non-elite audience on the African Human Rights Action Plan,” said Okechukwu Effoduh, one of the co-leads on the project. “We are excited to see many people across different countries share the same connection to the story.”

Sylvia Bawa
Sylvia Bawa

Help! has been shortlisted by NGO International Film Festival as one of the films that has disseminated a human-centered story, themed along the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and has catalyzed a knowledge-sharing culture. The international festival and awards will be held this October in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Outdooring AHRAP is designed to initiate several connection outreach activities on the African Human Rights Action Plan. The plan has six connection activities, which include a development implementation lecture, media outreach, a hackathon to develop an interactive web portal for AHRAP-NET, a speaker series, a TEDX at York presentation and the production of two films focused on AHRAP. The activities are engaging with the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), human rights NGOs within several African states, African governments (and their national human rights institutions), the African Union’s Human Rights Unit, and strategic media personnel. The countries where “outdooring” activities are taking place include, but not limited to, Kenya (in the east of Africa), Nigeria (in the west), South Africa (in the south), and Congo (in central Africa). The last phase of this project is taking place at York University.

To watch the trailer (and more information on Outdooring AHRAP):

To watch the full short film Help! (for free):  

To read more about the NGO International Film Festival: