DIFF student review – Nigeria meets Germany in Drama Consult

2013-07-26 16:36

City Press is proud to host student reviews of the films on offer at the Durban International Film Festival. The students are postgraduates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Culture, Communication and Media Studies department.

Drama Consult follows three Nigerian businessmen – a spare parts dealer, a real-estate developer and a shoe manufacturer – as they attempt to establish business ties in Germany.

The pilgrimage from Africa to Europe challenges perceptions of the Dark Continent. The risk-shy German contingents must come to terms with the fact that the “poverty stricken” Nigeria of their minds may in fact boast a bountiful return on their business investments.

The fast-paced Nigerian businessmen are risk-takers and go-getters. Tensions rise as the methodical Germans weigh the pros and cons of accepting Nigerian business.

Director Dorothee Wenner sought to challenge the audio-visual stereotype and the film’s construction echoes this. Scenes of lavish Nigerian hotels and up-market housing projects challenge the binaries of the first and third world. While Wenner considers the criticisms of this approach as painting Nigeria in gold, her motivation was to expose Africans as business contenders.

Wenner’s role in the film was that of facilitator, and after setting up the scenes, she took an observational back seat, which allowed her to expose little cultural conflicts that are trivial in essence, but threaten to jeopardise business ties. One such example is when the real-estate developer wears his signature hat in a meeting, blissfully unaware of German custom and etiquette.

Such intricacies are, however, lost on audience members not familiar with such cultural norms. The film’s observational mode requires an observant viewer.

Drama Consult won’t thrill the entertainment-seeker; it is for those with a genuine interest in their content.

The imploring message of the film is that Africans are worthy business contenders who simply need to be given a chance.

In this sense, the film echoes the message of Marc and Nick Francis’ film Black Gold (2006), by exposing the need for Africa to be independent and for Africans to be equal contenders in business.

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