When Joanna Lipper began working on her latest film, The Supreme Price, years ago, she had no way of knowing that the film’s U.S. theatrical release would coincide with the six-month anniversary of the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls.
And yet, the feature length documentary, which traces the evolution of the West African nation’s Pro-Democracy Movement, still manages to provide a historical background more nuanced and insightful than most news reports covering the tragedy.
"The horrific kidnapping of over 250 school girls in the north part of the country is a tragic story that touches upon the film’s key themes,” Lipper told BET.com in a recent interview. “The need to protect, educate and empower women and girls; the need for increased numbers of women leaders in political positions of power to represent their best interests; the violent backlash in the face of progressive change when it comes to traditional gendered stereotypes that involve the oppression of women; and the absence of a Nigerian government that is accountable to the masses.”
As Lipper explains, the film aims to provide context for understanding tragedies like the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, while also highlighting the efforts of heroic Nigerian women who are working every day to educate women, to hold their leaders accountable and to improve their country so that Nigeria can realize its enormous potential.
Centering the storyline on Hasfat Abiola, an award-winning Nigerian activist whose family is irreparably shattered by Nigeria’s 1993 annulled Presidential Election, Lipper presents a comprehensive look at a complex history and masterfully weaves an evocative story of politics, justice and women’s rights that will undoubtedly resonate with viewers worldwide just as the April 2014 schoolgirls abduction has.
With The Supreme Price now available in select theaters, the filmmaker and Harvard professor hopes that audiences realize the "immediate need for global solidarity when it comes to empowering women to be leaders in local communities and on the state and federal levels” both abroad and in the United States, "where women are underrepresented at every level of the political system."
"As a filmmaker, I was interested then — as I am now with this project set in Nigeria — in the ways in which gender, family, culture, religion, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status shape identity, self-perception, goals and life trajectories from a very early age onwards,” Lipper said about her work.
"I think it’s crucial to look at social and political issues across cultures from multiple transnational perspectives as well as from one’s own personal perspective."
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(Photo: Joanna Lipper/the 2050 Group)