I got the weekend started off last night with a happy hour hosted by the Friends of Liberia (FOL) in Dupont Circle. The FOL board is meeting this weekend and they got things started off with a bang at a local Irish Pub. I concluded the night back at Silver Spring for the screening of ‘Relentless’, a Nigerian film that is part of the line-up for the ongoing New African Films Festival.
FOL is composed primarily of former Liberian Peace Corps volunteers. Peace Corps opened in Liberia in 1962 (may have been 1963) and closed in 1990 with the outbreak of civil war. Peace Corps Response (which offers shorter stints for returned volunteers) returned to Liberia in 2008 and the full program resumed shortly thereafter. The group was composed primarily of older volunteers, many of who have impressively maintained connections to the country throughout the years (and have scaled them up since peace returned in 2003). Many of them were from out of town and it was very refreshing to hear from folks outside the beltway (though I did meet one individual that I was tempted to engage in a vigorous intellectual/historical debate with).
I continued the night in Silver Spring, where I started to feel the sudden effects of a cold, so I was not able to focus on the film very well (it also managed to develop the plot in both a confusing and halting manner). Unlike many of the films, Relentless was only screened on one day, so there’s no further chance to see it. Like Playing Warriors, it was also funded by the French government, though it seemed to share little of that film’s social messaging. While I know little about film, Relentless reminded me of some sort of classic French experimentalist flick. It also featured the rising Nigerian – German performer, Nneka, who came to DC not too long ago.
The script had minimal dialogue, relying on lengthy panoramic views and shots of everyday life in Lagos. Flashbacks were incorporated frequently and the main character was a tormented former UN peacekeeper (unlucky in love), who wandered the streets of Lagos at night.