Hot Docs review: Take Light

Powerful first feature shines light on the electrical grid in Nigeria, where over half of the population lives without a consistent supply of electricity


TAKE LIGHT (Shasha Nakhai, Canada). 78 minutes. Rating: NNNN


In her first feature documentary, Shasha Nakhai (a producer on recent docs Driving With Selvi and Frame 394) looks at the state of the electrical grid in Nigeria, where over half of the population lives without a consistent supply of electricity.

Take Light approaches its subject at ground level, introducing us to people and institutions “connected by the grid” – or by the lack of it. Our guide is a chatty electrician named Martins, who spends his days trying to get the unstable, unreliable infrastructure working for more and more people.

It’s an uphill battle: homes and businesses get a few hours of power at best, and black-market electricians add further strain by making illegal connections. The effects of deprivation ripple insidiously outward: a hospital ER regularly treats patients who’ve burned themselves working on gasoline generators a morgue can’t keep its refrigerators functioning consistently, which leads to bodies decomposing too quickly.

There’s a lot to take in, and Nakhai and editor Rich Williamson (who directed Frame 394) let it all flow elegantly, tying data to human stories rather than cold statistics – and, somehow, ending the film on a hopeful note.

April 27, 6:45 pm, Hart House May 1, 3:15 pm, Scotiabank 3 May 3, 6:30 pm, Scotiabank 3

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