Documentaries are powerful tools that help shed light on important issues, raise awareness, and give voices to underserved communities.
In February 2022, the Ultra team was contracted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to document the stories of Nigerian Women Returnees who had traveled to Libya illegally with the hope of crossing over to Europe.
One of the things that fascinated us was the peculiarity of this particular story. We took it to heart and decided to tell this story excellently, as we always do, without losing its authenticity.
For this documentary, we had to take a trip down to a rural community in Ogun State and Benin City in Edo State. Because of how sensitive the project was, a two-man crew from Ultrashot had to go for the production. I was lucky to be a part of it.
The stories we heard were heartbreaking. Many of these women were lured by promises of a better life, only to find themselves caught in a web of exploitation, abuse, and violence. Some were forced into prostitution, others into domestic servitude. The trauma they endured was evident in their eyes, it was difficult to imagine the pain they experienced.
As documentary filmmakers, it was hard to listen to their stories without feeling a sense of anger and frustration at the injustice these women had faced. But it was also inspiring to see the resilience and strength they demonstrated in the face of such adversity.
One of the women we interviewed recounted how they were starved, and forced to work long hours without pay. Some were beaten and forced to have sex with different men every day, raped. She shared how she and some of the other women escaped and made their way back to Nigeria with the help of IOM.
They also shared how life has been since they came back home, the stigma from friends, family, and society as returnees from Libya, and how they’ve been able to fight and slowly reintegrate into society.
These were just a few of the many stories we heard while making the documentary. Thousands of Nigerian women have made the perilous journey to Libya in search of a better life, only to find themselves caught in a nightmare. The root causes of this migration are complex and multifaceted, but they are often linked to poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities in Nigeria.
It was fulfilling to be a part of a team that gave these women a platform to share their stories. It was also enlightening and eye-opening for us as filmmakers.
As filmmakers, we have a responsibility to use storytelling to raise awareness about these issues and advocate for change. This is why a project like this is dear to us at Ultrashot.
We hope this documentary inspires compassion and empathy and calls for action to address the root causes of irregular migration.