Stuck between Benin and Nigeria in Africa’s most enigmatic border town, a Beninese engineer who lives in Canada and a Nigerian singer spend 48 hours together, an experience neither will ever forget.
After ten years of absence, Abe, a Beninese-Canadian professional returns to his home country to visit one more time the grandfather who raised him, now lying on his deathbed. Abe is riddled with guilt and regret for having neglected his grandfather for the last decade, during which he had turned his back on country and family. He now seeks pardon from his grandfather. Arriving at Lagos airport, he sets out to undertake the one-hour drive to Cotonou, Benin’s capital.
Safurat, an up-and-coming Afro-Soul singer, is also traveling from Lagos to Cotonou. She is invited to perform there at a concert. Despite her success, dynamism and strength of character, Safurat finds it hard to stand up to her overbearing mother, who wants her to stay in a difficult marriage.
Abe and Safurat find themselves stuck together in the Nigerian-Beninese border town of Seme as they do not have the requisite travel documents. Their 48-hour delay turns into an unexpected adventure, an exploration of a unique location, and a profoundly transformative experience in which they each learn to overcome their own demons. It is an adventure that ends with the beginning of a romance.
Filmmaking to me has always been about interrogating imposed borders, whether material or symbolic. Few settings allow to better narrate such a story of symbolic and material borders than Seme, the main border town between Nigeria and Benin. Often dubbed one of the most absurd borders in the world, this town is chaotic, bustling, and mysterious. It is here in Seme that the film’s two main characters find themselves thrown together. The protagonists’ time at the border is more than just waiting to cross into Benin. For both, crossing the physical border becomes a metaphor for transcending respective interior walls born out of individual and collective pasts.
The depth of the subject addressed in the film does not take away from its potential for mass appeal as Border also possesses the ingredients for a popular film able to attract as much an African audience as a global one. The film addresses universal questions around love, the search for meaning and identity, and notions of success, forgiveness and maturity. Border explores complex psychological dimensions through the conflicts, fears and hopes of its main characters, with which many viewers will identify. The captivating Afro-Pop soundtrack further lends the film universal appeal.