Trinh T. Minh-ha & Onyeka Igwe: Speaking Nearby

Directed by Onyeka Igwe

The films of Vietnamese filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha and London-based Onyeka Igwe challenge conventions of anthropological filmmaking and revolt against colonialism. Onyeka’s work takes The Aba Women’s War of 1929 against British rule in Nigeria as a starting point, reclaiming the archive through protest, dance, voice and text.

Curated by Gill Park


Trinh T. Minh-ha: Reassemblage (1982, 40 mins)
Women are the focus but not the object of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s influential first film, a complex visual study of the women of rural Senegal. Through a complicity of interaction between film and spectator, Reassemblage reflects on documentary filmmaking and the ethnographic representation of cultures.

Onyeka Igwe: Her Name in my Mouth (2017, 6 mins)
The film revisions the Aba Women’s War, the first major anti-colonial uprisings in Nigeria, using embodiment, gesture and the archive. The film is structured around the repurposing of archival films from the British propaganda arm cut against a gestural evocation of the women’s testimonies.

Onyeka Igwe: Sitting on a Man (2018, 7 mins)
Traditionally, women in Igbo-speaking parts of Nigeria came together to protest the behaviour of men by sitting on or making war on them by adorning themselves with palm fronds, dancing and singing protest songs outside the home of the man in question. This practice became infamous due its prominence as a tactic in the Aba Women’s War, the 1929 all-woman protest against colonial rule. Two contemporary dancers reimagine the practice, drawing on both archival research and their own experiences.

Onyeka Igwe: Specialised Technique (2018, 7 mins)
William Sellers and the Colonial Film Unit developed a framework for colonial cinema which included slow edits, no camera tricks and minimal camera movement. Hundreds of films were created in accordance to this rule set. In an effort to recuperate black dance from this colonial project, Specialised Technique attempts to transform this material from studied spectacle to livingness.


59 minutes

Country of origin:
Great Britain, Nigeria and Vietnam

Year of production:
1982 / 2017-18