From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Basking in the euphoria of a string of accomplishments in the international movie scene, filmmaker Obi Emelonye, who recently got inducted into Directors UK, an exclusive league of film, TV, and stage directors in the United Kingdom has completed work on ‘Black Mail’, his latest film. Shot in the UK, renowned actor, OC Ukeje, who is now based in Canada, played the leading role, supported by other great acts from Russia, China, United Kingdom and West Indies.
Speaking about the new film, his first since he was admitted into the prestigious Directors UK, Emelonye stressed that the dominance of white characters in his new work is not a way of justifying his membership of the exclusive directors’ league in the UK.
‘Describing the film as almost an all-white cast is not something I want to do with a sense of pride. What I will say is that I owe it to my people to tell their stories, from an African point of view as an African. Although my leading character in the film is black, it portrays the way we live when we are surrounded by people who are not Africans. The film has Russians, Britons, Chinese and people from West Indies, supporting the lead actor, OC Ukeje,’ he said.
‘Every filmmaker tells a story from his substratum, according to his influences. People are better positioned to tell impactful stories emanating from where they are located. I have been living in Europe for over 25 years and over time, I have imbibed a bit of the European spirit, but that has not diluted my African-ness; it, however, has enriched who I am as an African, and that is reflected in my works.
‘If I tell a story of an African in Europe, I will do so in a manner it will be palatable to audiences around the world. So it is natural that my stories will always be coloured by my transnational experiences outside of Nigeria. I think it enriches; we cannot always tell stories about people in the forests with clothes around their chests. We have to tell stories that are aspirational, stories that connect us to the world especially now that the world is a global village.
‘I have 4 films on Netflix and people are watching from Russia, Slovenia, China and other locations. What we have is the African connection with a global attitude…African characters in a cosmopolitan world,’ he said.
‘Black Mail’, laced with suspense and action, tells the story of how a single email, received by a black man, triggered a chain of unprecedented events in his white-dominated neighbourhood.