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Simisola Akande’s Ojumo Ti Mo and Dudu

We need to empower these voices that are near us.

There is a rising film scene in the UK where young minorities are starting to tell a story that is authentically theirs. Simisolaoluwa Akande, the 19-year-old creator of Ojumo ti Mo and Dudu, is a key part of this rise. Both her films, which have gained recognition from the British Film Institute and Film Africa, are refreshing exploration of contemporary issues.

Ojumo Ti Mo. (Dawn has come)

Main themes; loss, family, grief.

This documentary chronicles Simi’s family three years after the passing of their father. Through a series of phone calls, the four female household reflect on their feelings at the time of the loss and how they cope with grief now.

This is a very “gentle” and intimate documentary. She never seems to grasp any one image or idea too hard, allowing the voices of her sisters or mother to control the deepness of the conversation. The image also compliments this softness, as the editing affords a pleasant vibrancy to each frame, yet one which does not overwhelm the discussion itself.

Each family member’s perspective on their grief and loss is also profound. Everyone admits to dealing with a sense of guilt and regret, but there’s no cathartic moments of self-deprecation. There are no actors in this piece. Everything is real and Simi, through visual and sound captures this sense of realness.

Dudu. (Black)

Main themes; conformity, blackness, colourism

This short piece captures the plight of a dark-skinned black woman. Its poetic narration tells the story of a black woman who goes from being appreciative of her skin tone to staying under the “pale shade” of European beauty standards.

Though a short piece, its authenticity lies in visual rendering of the narrative. It seems sensitivity to colour is a motif of Akande’s work. The initial vibrancy to the image works cohesively with references to the Sun which brightens and empowers melanin skin. Later on, water is used as a motif of “submerging” under white ideals and the image of a hand scrubbing away at a melanated skin is a particularly powerful image.

Simisola Akande is not just a minority filmmaker. She represents a movement of young people staying true to their own truth and not pre-conceived perceptions of “indie” films. And this is something we should be eager to celebrate.

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