Africa First

short film program

AWARD RECIPIENTS

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

2012 Award Recipients

  • William Nicholson  |  South Africa

    William Nicholson is a 25-year-old South African who was born and raised in Johannesburg. He moved to Cape Town in 2006 to begin his studies at University of Cape Town (UCT), where he completed a Bachelors of Art in 2008 with majors in Film and English Literature. From here he decided to continue his studies with a more practically oriented year doing writing and directing at AFDA Film School, where he made a few short works that have screened in New York, Hong Kong, Seattle and have been broadcast across Africa.

    William entered the film industry by working as a creative researcher at Velocity Films, South Africa’s most awarded commercial production company, where he as learnt from some of the best director’s on the continent. Since September 2011, William has been employed in a similar capacity at Egg Films, also world-class production company, where he has also begun to direct jobs for clients such as Samsung, Old Mutual and loveLife.

    Whilst continuing to make a living from commercials, William’s true passion lies in narrative filmmaking, and so he plans to focus on making an award-winning short film and developing ideas for a feature script. 

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    Africa First was recommended to me by my current producer, David Horler. It’s clearly a program with a terrific track record that offers an unheard-of opportunity to young African filmmakers like myself, and so I felt it was an opportunity not to be missed.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    I have seen Dirty Laundry, Pumzi and The Tunnel, and they inspired me by their impressive production value and the sheer diversity between the three of them. It was a great encouragement to see such a variety of original creative stories coming out of Africa.

    What is your Africa First project about and what inspired you to tell this story?
    My Africa First project is about the relationship between an impoverished 12-year-old girl and her ailing grandmother, and how, as their situation become increasingly desperate, the grandmother starts to become a burden instead of a provider to the girl, creating a difficult emotional dynamic.

    My inspiration for the story came from my own painful experiences with my grandfather whom, after suffering two strokes, gradually deteriorated from a strong, intelligent and loveable man into a decrepit, severely demented and bewildered shadow of his former self. I was struck by the immense courage that my grandfather had -- and indeed all of us as human beings have -- in facing life even though we know our deaths are inevitable.

    Where did you grow up? Do you feel that where you come from influences you as a filmmaker, either in the stories that you tell or the style by which you tell them?
    I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and started school in the year that Apartheid ended, which meant growing up in a tense era of national transformation where every daily moment was politicized. I grew up in a neighborhood that typified the startling economic disparity and immense cultural diversity of South Africa.  From a young age I was exposed to various cultures and languages, to the very wealthy, the working class and the incredibly poor. I think the jadedness and disillusionment of the city also rubs off on you. It’s a hard city that everyone knows was built on the sweat of people who were unthinkably exploited, and that is difficult to look past.

    On a more practical level, I suppose growing up in a big city helped to nurture my fascination with movies and popular culture. From a young age I had a vibrant group of friends and was exposed to a plethora of books, films, toys and video games, and then also to the darker side of the city – a materialistic culture, dysfunctional families, alienation and so on.

    What was the first movie your remember seeing? 
    It must have been Disney’s Robin Hood, which my parents got for me on VHS. I watched it over and over until the tape was stretched beyond being playable. I remember loving the mystery of Sherwood Forest, the thrill of robbing the rich to feed the poor, and the brilliant fiery climax where Robin narrowly escapes death and then gets to marry Maid Marion.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    It was Saving Private Ryan. I first saw it on DVD at age twelve and watched it a few dozen times over. From that year on I’ve told people I wanted to be a filmmaker.

    How would you define African Cinema? Do you consider yourself an African filmmaker?
    This is an ongoing debate amongst South African film cinephiles and filmmakers in the rest of Africa. Is African cinema about the content, or the filmmakers, or simply the geographical setting? I personally think African Cinema is chiefly defined by the writer and/or director being African, just like “Hamlet” is considered English literature because it was written by an Englishman, rather than being considered Danish simply because it’s set in Denmark with Danish characters.

    So in this sense, even though I consider myself a global citizen, I think my filmmaking will undoubtedly be influenced by this continent, since my storytelling voice germinated here. Whatever films I ever make, regardless of which continent they’re set on, will undoubtedly be informed, even if ever so subtly, by my African upbringing.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
    I am heavily influenced by my passion for philosophy, which I think always surfaces to some extent in my work.
    In literature my hero would be James Joyce for his incredible ability to pierce through our social facades to expose what we really are (especially in his short story collection Dubliners).

    In cinema I could go through an endless list of directors, but perhaps the biggest influence on me has been the era of the 60s/70s Hollywood renaissance – with films like Taxi Driver, A Woman Under The Influence, Five Easy Pieces and Apocalypse Now. I also love small human dramas in the European tradition – everything from The Bicycle Thief to the films of the Dardenne Brothers and Andrea Arnold.

    Music also plays an enormous role in my life, particularly that of the late 70s and early 80s (bands like Joy Division, OMD, The Cure and so on) 

    What is most exciting for you being a filmmaker today –– either in terms of the stories you want to tell, technological advances, changes in distribution, or current political and/or cultural shifts. What is most challenging?

    The somewhat mundane answer is that I feel that film/video is the dominant medium of entertainment today (excepting perhaps for music), capable of conveying powerful ideas to a vast audience in a very short amount of time.

    The more interesting answer is that globally we’ve reached a point where scientific and cultural ideas are more widely permeated yet perhaps more superficially understood than ever before. The ideas of of the great post-Enlightenment thinkers – Marx, Freud, Darwin and so on – have permeated popular consciousness to a never-before-seen level, resulting in widespread abandonment of traditional worldviews, inner conflict within the minds of people and political conflict in the arenas of economics and religion in particular. Added to this is the immense global economic pressure we find ourselves under, as well as the grim reality of climate change. It’s as if the human race has finally realized that the post-WW2 dream of endless growth and prosperity is no longer feasible and this pressure is causing great tension between nations, classes and religious groups. Of course, drama is all about processing conflict, and thus I think filmmakers will have a big voice in navigating humanity through these tense times.

    If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    I would write for an alternative publication like Vice Magazine while trying to become a published author.

    Read more about William » Watch an interview with William »

  • Vincent Moloi  |  South Africa

    Vincent Moloi’s film career started in documentaries, but moved into narrative film when he interned on Hotel Rwanda. Since then, he has directed ten different TV drama series and two short films. He completed his Media Studies Certificate and continues directing all kinds of fiction and non-fiction work. Vincent has come a long way from his days working on community TV initiatives to being part of a new breed of South African TV directors.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I heard of it from my executive producer.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    No, I have not seen any of the previous Africa First work.

    Where did you grow up? Do you feel that where you come from influences you as a filmmaker, either in the stories that you tell or the style by which you tell them?
    Grew up mainly in Soweto township and was exposed to lots of cultural trends and political violence alike until my grandmother sent me to a remote rural school in a homeland by the Maloti Mountains.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing? Where were you and how did you react to it?  
    It’s very hard to remember the first movie I saw, but I remember watching Marilyn in her red dress and extensively red lips and how men, white men, were so powerless in front of her. Now growing up in Soweto in the ‘80s, and in South Africa, to see a white man powerless was almost not real. A white man was a symbol of absolute power after God. But here I am watching TV and white men in NY were reduced to nothing. That really got to me.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I never wanted to make films, so it was not films that got me into film but the power films had.

    How would you define African Cinema? Do you consider yourself an African filmmaker?
    It's very hard to have one definition for African films. The culture is too diverse and broad. But one common thread through African films could be their humanity. Africans are highly spiritual and sophisticated beings. It’s another science that we have not been able to understand and master to put into a screenplay.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
    I’m not a hero person.

    What filmmakers do you most admire—and why?
    I still can’t get over The Seven Deadly Sins. I can’t say what is it I like about the film. But I definitely like the pace, tone and acting. It’s probably how things are slowly revealed and pieces are put together.

    If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    If I were not a filmmaker, I would definitely be an explorer, traveler, or a troubadour of some sort. I’m not sure what I would be doing, but I would be out there.

    Read more about Vincent » Watch an interview with Vincent »

  • Samantha Nell  |  South Africa

    Samantha Nell was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987. She was interested in film from a young age and chose early on to pursue it as a career.

    She received a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 2010. She is currently pursuing an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore.

    She has directed short films on three continents and has received recognition for the short documentary “A Kosovo Fairytale” (2009) – co-directed with previous Africa First recipient Mark Middlewick and Finnish director Anna-Sofia Nylund. The short played at festivals in Europe, Africa and Asia and won the student film prize at the 2010 Tampere International Film Festival in Finland. She has also worked as a cinematographer on several films both in South Africa and Asia.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I heard about Africa First when I came across the trailer for Umkhongo a year and a half ago and then again later through Mark Middlewick, who participated in the programme in 2011.

    I was writing a lot in grad school and I wanted to keep up the habit over the summer and write something local. I ended up with something I really liked and wanted to see if I could make something out of it.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    I had seen trailers for a few of them when I applied and was intrigued by the different kinds of stories and the scope of the films. I actually ended up on the set for Mark Middlewick’s film in Johannesburg and enjoyed the experience.

    I have subsequently watched the 2008 and 2009 films. It was really wonderful to see the unique worlds the filmmakers created. It is clear from watching the films that each director had a lot of freedom in creating these projects and it’s just something I’d like to be a part of.

    What is your Africa First project about and what inspired you to tell this story?
    My project is about a middle-aged neurotic undertaker in Soweto who is afraid of everything. His day goes from bad to worse when he loses the body of a client and is forced to face his fears in order to get it back.

    I was inspired by a number of things: Firstly I think growing up in South Africa leaves you with a certain amount of paranoia about safety and death. I don’t think I was aware of how deeply this had affected me until I went to graduate school. I think how people navigate fear and live a full life anyway is really interesting.

    Secondly, I became interested in death and funeral homes several years ago when I realized how many there are in Johannesburg. I don’t remember when, but I remember kind of waking up one day and noticing that in some places there were funeral homes on every block. I started looking at the different kinds and the way they approached death and just didn’t stop. They were so interesting.

    Where did you grow up? Do you feel that where you come from influences you as a filmmaker, either in the stories that you tell or the style by which you tell them?
    I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and it definitely had a massive influence on me both in terms of style and story. Joburg is a cultural melting pot with people from all over not just South Africa but Africa and the world. You’re constantly encountering new perspectives and having to tread new cultural waters.

    Encountering new and different things just makes you a better storyteller. The more you experience the more unique and exciting stuff you can use to create stories. The same goes for style – Joburg is a visually interesting and vibrant place and I think a lot of the images that I encountered as a child have stuck with me and influenced the work I do today.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing? Where were you and how did you react to it?  
    The Wizard of Oz. My mom showed me the film at home when I was a kid and told me the story about how she’d cried when the film changed from black-and-white to colour. I remember just being obsessed with it. I’d watch it over and over again. I’m pretty sure I could still quote entire scenes from that movie without help. There’s just something special about it.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I remember wanting to be a filmmaker from a very young age. But I think the film that first made me start thinking about it seriously was Amelie. It was so different from anything I’d seen before and it made me want to be a part of that world.

    How would you define African Cinema? Do you consider yourself an African filmmaker?
    I don’t think it’s possible to define African cinema. It’s such a vast continent with disparate styles and approaches to filmmaking that to try and fit them all into one category would do them a disservice. I think what is exciting about the films that are coming out of Africa right now is how different they all are.

    I would definitely consider myself an African filmmaker. Although I have made films in other countries I really feel I do my best work when I’m at home.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
    Filmmakers: Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malick, Francois Truffaut, Alan Resnais, Chris Marker, Wong Kar-wai, Bong Joon-ho, Francis Ford Coppola, Park Chan-Wook, Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet, Sofia Coppola, Sergio Leone, Ingmar Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Tim Burton, Roman Polanski, Alfonso Cuarón, Mel Brooks, Michelangelo Antonioni… I could go on.

    Novellists: Neil Gaiman, Mark Twain, C.S Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J D Salinger, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, Zakes Mda, Can Themba, J.M Coetzee, Ian McEwan.

    Photographers: Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sally Mann, Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, Eve Arnold, David Goldblatt, Seydou Keita, Martin Parr.

    What is most exciting for you being a filmmaker today –– either in terms of the stories you want to tell, technological advances, changes in distribution, or current political and/or cultural shifts. What is most challenging?
    I think the most exciting thing about being a filmmaker today is the way that distribution and technology are shifting. There’s a new system working itself out and that gives people who wouldn’t have the means or opportunity before a real shot at getting their stories out there. It’s really leveling the playing field and as long as you tell good stories you can really find an audience.

    If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Teach. I love kids and education is my real passion project. I hope to be able to combine teaching and film one day.

    Read more about Samantha » Watch an interview with Samantha »

  • Jeremiah Mosese  |  Lesotho

    Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is an independent, self-taught flmmaker who has been writing, directing, editing and producing music videos, commercials, documentaries and feature-films since 2006. That has earned him a reputation as a poetic and rebellious filmmaker in his home country Lesotho. In 2012 he was selected to be part of the Berlinale Talent Campus No 10.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I heard about Africa First from a friend. Also seeing bits and pieces of what the former African First winners did was beautiful and inspiring. It is great to have the means to do what you love to do. And to be able to do that in the country you love - for me that's priceless.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    I did see an extract of Jan-Hendrik Beetge's The Abyss Boys and his cinematography really inspired me. Personally I am driven by images and an idea, it's that very magic that gives me goosebumps, and that is what makes me wake up in the morning feeling like I have something to give to the world.

    What is your Africa First project about and what inspired you to tell this story?
    My short film Mosongoa is about a young woman living in a remote village in Lesotho. As a young girl Mosongoa was told that her mother had died. She lives alone with her father and the few cows he owns. As all women in Lesotho, she takes care of the household and the felds – even more so since her father is a former stick fghter who was injured severely in his last fight and cannot take care of himself. Mosongoa's desire is to become a stick-fighter like her father not knowing that even her mother was a stick-fghting champion. In the end Mosongoa's stick fighting training pays of as she wins the local championship. What she doesn't know yet is that this also brings her closer to the mother she believed dead.

    I was inspired by many strong women in my life and I thought to myself history has been made, it can only be fair to tell herstory, even though I struggled with the thought of telling a woman's story since I wasn't considering myself worthy of telling it, not knowing what being a woman must feel like sometimes. On the other hand I just wanted to be a part of that voice in my village and hopefully their struggle.

    Where did you grow up? Do you feel that where you come from influences you as a filmmaker, either in the stories that you tell or the style by which you tell them?
    I was born in the '80s in Hlotse, a small village in Lesotho. A lot of things happened at that time -- some of my friends died, others went to jail. I learned to imagine my life somewhere further, my imaginations became my angels of freedom, as later I would call them. I dreamed of the world that I aspired to live in. In my films I want to project that very idea: I want to inspire the viewers to allow their own imaginations to become real and thus create the world they want to live in.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing? Where were you and how did you react to it?
    Platoon or Mad Max – I cannot remember clearly.

    I was in Hlotse, Leribe. There was a small community hall, where they used to show films, I would watch films with passion, it was my religion and during the next break at school I would tell my school mates the story of the whole movie. Every detail, sound effects, facial expressions – I retold the movie as close to reality as possible. Then later I realized that people liked listening to me and I bought a roll of cashier paper (that was used back then) and I would draw some characters I had seen but most were coming out of my head. Then I would put the paper roll in a box that used to contain porridge and cover the upper part with a glass. Instead of telling the story now I was able show it, I had my own little cinema. Also I used to walk a long distance from school back home alone and on the way I would create a story in my head. By the time I got home I would have a full length story to draw for the next day to show, and the kids at school would even pay me to watch it.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I don't think there was a particular film. I liked drawing and making up characters in my head as a child which is why filmmaking was and still is my dream profession.

    How would you define African Cinema? Do you consider yourself an African filmmaker?
    It's organic, it evolves, and it's very diverse. From North Africa to Sub Sahara, there are so many diferent facets. So depending where you are, it's been shifting for the last 20 years. In the end, I am afraid, we will end up with one global language, which is cinema, mid shots, close ups, etc. Gaston Kabore said if Africa does not acquire the capacity to forge its own gaze, so as to confront its own image, it will lose its point of view and its self-awareness. I think that is what's happening to cinema generally – it becomes all the same, the distinctions of cinematic languages are becoming less definable.

    Of course I am defined by others as '"African" filmmaker, and it puts me into a specific box. But I figured out that on other hand it has a fine tune to it, since I love Africa with passion and the title carries a lot of glory for me. Making films in Africa with nothing, relying purely on courage and still creating something: This is pure alchemy. So yes, I would like be considered an African filmmaker.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
    People that sacrifce themselves for something bigger – for instance those monks who set themselves on fire in China. Besides that Wangari Maathai, then my mother, of course. And pretty much anyone who stands for an idea that's worth a sacrifice. I grew up without a television so I didn’t have many public figures to idolize.

    What is most exciting for you being a filmmaker today –– either in terms of the stories you want to tell, technological advances, changes in distribution, or current political and/or cultural shifts. What is most challenging?
    Current political and/or cultural shifts and of course the technology (e.g. DSLR cameras that are afordable). But I must say when it comes to politics that's the most challenging one, since Africa usually doesn’t support its own filmmakers. It's a shame. And technology - these days it's much easier to make a movie. The paradigm has shifted in favour of the independent filmmakers I think. Also there are no more worries about flm stock, editing bays and finished prints and so on. If you have an idea and you don’t have the money you can market via Internet; there are new ways of financing an independent film like crowd funding. Having the money, you simply go out there and shoot.

    If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    I would be a magician, or a painter.

     

    Read more about Jeremiah » Watch an interview with Jeremiah »

  • Ekwa Msangi-Omari  |  Tanzania

    Ekwa Msangi-Omari (writer, director, producer) is a Tanzanian-American filmmaker who grew up in Kenya and is based in New York. Her initial career started in producing, and now focusses on writing and directing.

    Ekwa has directed several short films, most recently Taharuki (Suspense), a 12-minute short set against the backdrop of the start of Kenya’s post-election violence, about a man and woman from opposing ethnic tribes who’re working for an underground resistance movement to expose a child-trafficking cartel when something goes wrong, and they’re forced to make tough choices in order to stay alive and complete their mission.

    Ekwa has also directed several drama series for mainstream broadcasters in Kenya and for MNET South Africa which includes The Agency, MNET’s first ever original hour-long Kenyan drama series. The Agency was televised continent-wide and her films Taharuki (Suspense), Weakness, and Dollar Van have been official selections at festivals such as New York African, Pan African, Durban International, Imagem dos Povos, Roxbury International, and Zanzibar International Film Festivals.

    As well as her directing career, Ekwa has written for both television and film, and is currently developing a feature film sequel to her 2011 film Taharuki which is titled Sweet Justice andis currently in development with Babylon International and a participant of the Africa Produce Market at the Festival de Ciné Africano de Cordoba 2012.
    Ekwa teaches an NYU Spring Documentary Production course in Havana, Cuba. She has guest lectured on the topic of Contemporary African Cine-Media, and is an active Board Member of the Women in Film & Television – Kenya Chapter.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    Africa First from a number of sources actually: professional listings, friends in film circles and a personal friend (Wanuri Kahiu) who got accepted in the first year. But with a name like “Africa First” how could I not apply?!

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    I have. I found their work to be daring and atypical of what is usually seen by and about Africa/ns.  Their work and varied modes of expression with story and image is very much in line with my own. I found their work to be a great affirmation, and also a contradiction to the ways in which Africa is normally imagined. There weren’t any limits to the possibilities. That’s inspiring to me.

    What is your Africa First project about and what inspired you to tell this story?
    My project is a fish-out-of-water comedy about a middle class Kenyan father taking his daughter to the market to get her hair braided, and the drama that ensues thereafter. The story -–though highly embellished!--is inspired by my late father, Prof. K.F. Msangi. He was the only African man I knew/know who would regularly take [his daughter] to the market to get [her] hair braided. He would even coach the stylists on particular hair styles that he’d designed to suit my face, etc. leaving them amazed and bewildered as to how seriously he took the whole affair.

    In all societies, and certainly in African ones, there are certain spaces that are often deemed as “men’s” or “women’s,” and people on either side can be extremely protective of those spaces. In this script, I wanted to have fun, with the idea of what might happen when one crosses these artificial boundaries into a space that is traditionally deemed a no-go zone.

    Where did you grow up? Do you feel that where you come from influences you as a filmmaker, either in the stories that you tell or the style by which you tell them?
    My family is Tanzanian but I grew up in Kenya, which essentially means that I was often regarded as a foreigner in both communities. In order to feel a sense of belonging, two things happened: a) I studied the way that people behaved and b) I studied the way people spoke. From an early age I learned to observe people, to mimic accents, body language, and mores and codes of conduct. As far as language, I would listen to visiting relatives speak in such dense and colorful Kiswahili, which in and of itself is such a visual language. Stories of relatives from across the border were always such a highlight for me. There were always such colorful characters with epic stories of war and redemption. I in turn would go to school and re-tell these stories to my friends about what my family in Tanzania was like and all the adventures I’d encountered over my vacations. I have a knack for watching people and for detail in character construction which is a strong suit in my work.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing? Where were you and how did you react to it?  
    The first movie that stands out for me was The Sound of Music. (Growing up in an ex-British colony, we were fed A LOT of musicals!) My best friend had the film on VHS tape and we literally watched it every single day after school for maybe a year. I guess we loved the idea of this military family that goes on a journey together in the hands of an unpredictable nun. Going to a catholic school also made the idea of a fly-by-night nun quite exciting!

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    The film that made me want to be a filmmaker was probably Spike Lee’s School Daze, because it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen in my life! I could tell he was saying something with the film, but I had no clue what in the world that was. I was probably about 9 years old and it came on as the late-night movie one weekend, and was the first film I’d seen with an all Black cast. That made a huge impact on me because I’d never even fathomed seeing that before…a film where everyone looked like me. So even though I had no perspective on the story, it felt like it was a film for me, made by someone [Black] like me, and therefore I wanted to be able to share in that. I wanted to make a film that did make sense for me and my circumstances.  Soon after they released Sarafina! in the movie theatres for exactly two weeks, and after seeing an all Black cast of Africans, singing, dancing, and speaking in a way that was much closer to home, I was moved. I made a decision that I wanted to do that. I had no idea what it entailed, but I knew I wanted to make that.

    How would you define African Cinema? Do you consider yourself an African filmmaker?
    African cinema is as vast as the people themselves so its hard to define. I’d say it is a cinema by and/or about Africans. Not necessarily “made in” Africa, but cinema that actually focuses on the lives, triumphs, struggles, pleasures, etc of African people, both on the continent and in the Diaspora. That’s different from the multitude of “white people getting their groove back in Africa” films that have been made (East Africa has been a popular destination for that). That’s what African Cinema isn’t.

    As for my identity: I’m African and I’m a filmmaker. So yes, I consider myself as an African filmmaker.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
    My father. He was an extraordinary man. He was a graphic designer, a painter, a philosopher, a mystic, a musician and a cook. He taught me to be fiercely proud of being ME, and he shared his great love of -- and hopes for -- Africa, and of all the things that he saw as being beautiful about our people, culture and continent. I’ve had a number of role models growing up, my mother of course included, but to be raised in the way that I was, with the freedom, support and unwavering encouragement that I had to trust my mind, my thinking, and my spirit by an African man of his generation is rare, and is deeply profound to me. He laid a very strong foundation for me which I feel obliged to honor as best as I can.

    What is most exciting for you being a filmmaker today –– either in terms of the stories you want to tell, technological advances, changes in distribution, or current political and/or cultural shifts. What is most challenging?
    I’m excited by the possibility of being among a cadre of artists –- many of whom are female -- and working to create our own identity. We’re no longer relying on or accepting foreign views on who we are. We have the tools and the know-how to make our own history. To create our own images, taking on what makes sense and discarding what doesn’t. We’re creating our own visual languages and codes; we have our own star systems, celebrities and villains. I love the possibility of us and I love that my job is to document and nourish those images, and reflect them back at ourselves so we can keep refining it. That’s an amazing honor.

    If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Hm. I’d be a dancer, a musician, and/or a chef in that order.

    Read more about Ekwa »