A woman, Salewa (Sheila Chiamaka Chukwulozie), returns from London to her home village in Nigeria for her mother’s funeral in writer-director Olive Nwosu’s short film, Egúngún (Masquerade).
Since childhood, Salewa has always felt detached from her community. Returning home, Salewa stands out as she is sharply dressed in a fine suit as compared to the traditional garments of home. She also knows that she could never live up to her mother’s standards, as Salewa’s mother was worshipped as a saint in the town. As a result, Salewa finds herself feeling distant during the festivities.
As the service ends, Salewa spots an old friend, Ebun (Teniola Aladese). Ebun was her mother’s maid, and as the two are not far apart in age, they were especially close. Following Ebun into the market, she invites Salewa home to her ailing husband. This brief moment allows Salewa and Ebun to find closure in their relationship.
“…never live up to her mother’s standards, as Salewa’s mother was worshipped as a saint in the town.”
Egúngún explores the relationship between Salewa and Ebun. A relationship that Salewa’s deeply religious mother forbade. As time passed, Salewa chose to move to London, far from her mother’s grasp. Ebun stayed behind, choosing normalcy and security instead. The heart of Nwosu’s story is found in a quiet moment between Salewa and Ebun to say and not say what needs to be said.
Nwosu has written an incredible story about coming home and confronting the past. In every way, she makes Salewa stand out from her past by the way she dresses and speaks. Almost as if she’s a fish out of water in her home village. Sheila Chiamaka Chukwulozie is amazing. She gives a subtle performance and carries the heart of the tale. The cinematography is equally effective with its use of the Steadicam following Salewa on this emotional journey.
Egúngún is a beautiful film that shows that you can’t run from your past, as the past needs to be confronted in order to move on.
Egúngún screened as part of National Short Film Day and can be viewed on Film Movement Plus.