Women's History Month: Recognizing Nigerian Filmmakers

Written by Dede Stewart 

Women's History Month is coming to an end, and we want to take the time to appreciate our Nigerian filmmakers. Continue reading this post as we highlight two British-Nigerian filmmakers.

a picture of As above and away from the fields on a poster
Poster design by Lisa Patz,photo by Safeen ​​James

"As Above" By kemi anna adeeko

2 girls outside
Photo:Safeen ​​James

Kemi Anna Adeeko: The Creative Storyteller 

""As Above" was produced by Kemi Anna Adeeko. She is a filmmaker and storyteller "committed to creating visuals that share diverse experiences." She started her career in photography and advertising and she has used both of those to create wholesome concepts that capture the diversity of the Black diaspora. Kemi's film does a fantastic job of capturing the beauty of Black people in a way that has not been seen before. Black people are usually pictured very poorly and their faces are typically shadowed, so we appreciated the use of light throughout the film. The viewers can see Black people the way that they were always supposed to be seen

A boy is ontop of a man
Photo:Safeen James ​​

We are stronger together 

The film represents the different kinds of love. Familial, platonic, romantic, old, young... we could see all the different types of love and the intimacy between each group. Black joy is evident and it is displayed through laughter, dancing, and even roller skating. Kemi's voice in the background is very soothing as she recites a poem that pays homage to the Black experience and the Black diaspora. The end of the poem is especially powerful as she says, "But finally, this is where I am meant to be, on the shoulders of giants as dark as me". This sentence sums up the entire experience of the diaspora. For many of us, our parents moved abroad to build a life for us. They left their home for a better life, but they are faced with the challenges that come with living in a new place like learning a new culture and lifestyle. Little by little, they find their community and home away from home. Community is the only way we can get far because no one can do this life alone. This African proverb has definitely been recited by many but the message still rings true. It says "If you want to go far, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

a man and women holding two children in the woods
Photo: Safeen ​​James
a woman sitting on a man
Photo:Safeen ​​James
a woman adjusting a man
Photo: Safeen ​​James

"Away from the fields" By safeen james

a group of men
Photo: ​​Safeen James

Safeen James: The Diasporan Narrator 

Safeen James is a filmmaker who directed the film 'Away from the fields", which tells the story of the Nigerian diaspora being caught between two worlds. Her work is inspired by the Yoruba proverb "Ile l'abo simi oko" which translates to "home is the place of rest, away from the fields". According to her interview with Casper Studio, she says that "this film is our response to any of us within this community who has ever felt estranged from our roots". 

three men sitting on a ledge
Photo:Safeen James ​​
four men posing for a camera
Photo:Safeen ​​James

Caught between Two worlds 

This film was beautifully done and the concept was one that had not been seen before. The use of British slang as well as pidgin symbolizes our connections to both identities. It was interesting to see them in agbadas in the streets of London but in other shots, they were in regular clothes. The talking drum is an integral part of Yoruba culture, so it was nice to see how that was incorporated into the film especially with it being played by a young man. The film was powerful, especially the moment where the group of young men bowed to the older gentleman.  Respect is a big thing in Nigerian culture, but bowing is specific to the Yoruba tribe. This scene was significant because even though we are outside of Nigeria, we have carried our culture to the places we immigrated to. The film was not only a love letter to the diaspora but also to our parents who came here in search of better. They taught us these customs and traditions so that we can preserve our Nigerian culture. 


a young boy playing the talking drum
Photo:Safeen ​​James
a group of men prostrating
Photo:Safeen ​​James

The future of film looks bright  

It is really encouraging to see young, Nigerian women treading a path for the future creatives coming up behind them. We are happy that the next generation of Nigerians has so many people to represent them and our diverse experiences and identities. We are glad that we get to be the representation that the older generation did not have. Kemi Anna Adeeko and Safeen James, thank you. The next generation is in good hands because of people like you!


kemi on the left and safeen on the right

Kemi Anna Adeeko on the left and Safeen James on the right

Want to learn more about Safeen James and Kemi Anna Adeeko? Check out these videos!

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