“Citation” is a Nigerian film written by Tunde Babalola and directed by Kunle Afolayan. The film features a college student who accuses her professor of sexual misconduct and the backlash she faces for reporting the incident. The storyline is very prevalent in today’s society as it seems we are witnessing an increase in professors being accused of abusing their positions of power and using the leverage they hold over students in a harmful manner.
The film starts off by showing a student arguing over the phone with her professor who is threatening to give her a bad grade. She agrees to meet him at a motel to discuss the grade but arranges for three of her male friends to accompany her for safety purposes. The friends burst into the room and drag the professor out to the street, where he is harassed by onlookers. The professor is beaten by the men and attempts to get away but runs into oncoming traffic and is killed.
The film abruptly cuts to two years later and is now involved in a completely different storyline. Moremi (Temi Otedola) is a postgraduate student that is shown walking hesitantly through campus as she receives judgmental glares from passing students. She is featured on a pamphlet about sexual harassment on campus and viewers learn that she has accused Professor N’Dyare, a respected member of the faculty, of attempting to rape her. From this point on, the film transitions back and forth between present day when Moremi’s case hearing is taking place and back to the events leading up to the incident.
This film is a prime example of the increasingly common occurrence of sexual misconduct and assault that happens on college campuses. Since professors determine grades and can be a deciding factor in a student’s path to success after graduation, they hold a lot of power over their students.
The Office on Women’s Health reports that one in five women will experience sexual assault in college. Many of these incidents go unreported and can result in mental health related problems for survivors which include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and can also lead to poor academic performance.
“Citation” also sheds light on the fact that many survivors of sexual assault experience doubt from others surrounding their accounts of violence. Moremi’s version of events differs greatly from Professor N’Dyare’s and the members of the hearing panel as well as her fellow classmates doubt whether she is telling the truth. It is her word versus his, and it isn’t until she uncovers more evidence that her case takes a turn in the right direction.
“Citation” is a timely film that shows the difficult path that survivors face following a sexual assault. Moremi is determined to get justice for herself and for others who have come before her. Her strength signals hope for other individuals in similar positions and shows that persistence in times of distress and mistrust allows for justice to be served.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @NetflixNaija on Twitter.