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Stats: 17,470 members, 69,359 Topics, 15,456 Comments. Date: Jun 19 2019, 1:46 am

Graduate, Nigeria.
Congratulations. It’s not easy for Africa or an African filmmaker to break into a film festival such as TIFF, Cannes etc… indeed, you are ‘of good report’…

(Laughs)Thank you, thank you… And thank you for your interest.

How do you feel being called a provocative filmmaker?

Good question. First, I prefer to be called an entertainer because that’s where the intention comes from. I like to be a thought provoking entertainer which is where I would rather put myself as a category. But it’s an interesting psychology in regards to how people view my work. I don’t come from a space of saying, when I tell a story, I want to be provoked. It’s not my launching space. My launching space is the idea of highlighting humanity’s struggle with self. That’s really the tapestry of where my work lies. My work highlights our contradictions as humanity… black, white, green, yellow… and often, or somehow it has got to a point where the title that comes with that is being called provocative. But my intention really is to engage humanity on our contradictions.

You tell African stories. How much do you think that these stories of ours appeal to the world?

Well our stories definitely appeal to the world because we are very much a part of the human family. I think and believe that the language of cinema is universal language. And the more we speak the universal language of cinema as the people who make films the more our films have the bigger opportunity to be seen by the world. As an African man, I feel that this medium of film is relatively new to us. Yes of course we’ve got a history about black filmmaking, don’t misunderstand me. But I still believe as holistically as a continent, we have not mastered this medium to a point where we can fully articulate ourselves as we can with other instruments like the pen. We’ve mastered the pen. We’ve mastered the drama, we’ve mastered certain things. But the camera, to some degree, we’ve not full mastered. Not for anybody else but for ourselves. And personally that’s what I endeavour to do. As much as I’ve not succeeded, I endeavour to master the craft so that as a black person I can articulate myself in the medium of making films so that our stories can be heard. We celebrate forms of black cinema or African cinema but for me it stays with us, and as long as it stays with us, then we are not telling our stories … I want the world to be engaged on our terms, but unfortunately if I look at our colonial past, I look at the French influence on Africa, I look at the English influence on Africa, Dutch influence on Southern Africa, Germany as well, all the influences have slipped through to our fabrics on how we tell our stories. I’m a black man from South Africa who thinks in English. I think in English, I don’t think in my mother tongue. I don’t think I am the only one. If I am to locate the whole continent, it’s either we think in English, or in Arabic, or in French.

We hardly think in our mother tongues. Just to think (laughs)… that tells you how white we are. So, when I talk about the articulation or using this medium of films to tell our stories, I mean being in control of it in such a way that we can use it as a tool of exploration; a tool of self-exploration as black people. So I believe that in our telling our stories, we are understanding ourselves better. But let’s not let the medium, the mechanism of doing that be a distraction. Like I said it could be a pen, it could be a guitar; it’s just a tool. So I want us to be like the Europeans, like the Asians, South Americans where, they are not actually preoccupied with the tool anymore, they have mastered the tool. Now they are just in themselves telling the stories. Obviously there is a political history of context of why we are thinking in white men’s languages. There is nowhere else I want to be but my continent. If a studio offers me Black Panther 3, I will take it. It’s a platform for everybody to see what you do, it’s a powerful medium and I will never reject Hollywood in that sense, but I will always be making films and living in my continent, because that’s where the rich tapestry is.

Would you say we have started to tell our stories in Africa? If yes, how fast are we moving?

We haven’t started… we haven’t started to tell our stories. From North to South, I have spent time in Nigeria: Lagos, Delta, Bayelsa and I found an interesting thing when I looked at Nigerian cinema; this purveying culture of aspiration. As a southern African coming to Nigeria, the first thing I saw was the locations. Yes, ‘look at this f..king place,’ forgive my language. ‘Wow!’ I can see myself shooting films in these bridges and these swamps. I can see all sorts of spectacles in my head, but then when I look at Nigeria in cinema, I don’t see those locations. I see one story told in compounds or rural villages.

That in between space, the mess, sweatiness and people living on top of each other in Lagos are things that I find cinematically interesting. Nigeria is probably looking at it and saying, no, this is not what I want to show the world, I would rather show a cleaner side of myself. So you could see just how conceptions from someone who is far sees it in a different way to someone who works in it who is trying to hide these things that I see as exciting. So, as African filmmakers, we need to first open ourselves to each other. We are all in this together because there is a bigger political mission at hand and the mission at hand is for us as people of colour in Africa to articulate ourselves, using this medium.

How did your growing up influence your thinking and the kind of movies that you make?

Great question. I am a child of apartheid. I was born in 1979 so I experienced 14 years of apartheid during my formation, and I feel that I grew up in a very blessed time because I had opportunity, as a child, to see a form of reality crumble before me. It’s like seeing a miracle. I lived in a particular kind of reality and all of a sudden it crumbles. It was a reality that people of my kind lived in; people of my colour.

So when I was born into an apartheid system, I didn’t question it, even though I didn’t agree with it, I didn’t question its existence, and to see it crumble was literally a miracle in front of my eyes. And what that did was that it fostered in me, a sense of, like we see in Kepe’s story, backing my own bullshit. What it did was that it fostered in me a sense of ‘If a system like this is a bunch of people’s ideas, however messed up they were, saying this is what reality is’, imagine what I can do with my own sense of self. So, apartheid didn’t erode my sense of self, it made the opposite. It made me believe in myself. And if there is anything that I would relate to in regards to the story of John Kepe, it is that a system that should have made him weak turn out to make him strong.

Is there justification in stealing from the rich to feed the poor?

Good question. I like that question because part of what I try to do with the film is to try and demystify ideas around heroes, being a hero and the idea of legends and how telling a story about someone’s heroism can be skewed or used for the purveying order of the day. It could easily be convenient for me today to celebrate a hero of the past and tell their story because of what I am trying to get done today; whatever reality I am trying to sell today. Which is the whole thing I am talking about the contradiction of humanity and the idea that we back our own nonsense.

Apartheid was just a system that had a backing of people’s nonsense until that nonsense became the law, and until that nonsense became a way of life, and all of a sudden it was entrenched into our system. That’s how everything starts with people backing their own crap. The idea of the morality of what you speak on: it is okay to steal from one to give to the other is exactly what I am trying to ask in the film. The logline of the film is one man’s bandit is another man’s champion. So, it is still the idea of perspective and proves to the right one. And what is right, what is wrong? What I had to do with the white settler farmers who are chasing him was to humanise their struggle. I needed to find their humanity even though I don’t personally agree with their politics; I needed to find their sense of humanity because in doing so, the question that you are asking makes it more apparent because you’ve seen the white farmer that is being stolen from and the effect of what he is experiencing from the thief. And that hopefully will place the viewer in a position where they don’t necessarily want to root for the bad guy but now they understand where he is coming from.
What I Found Fascinating For Nigerian Cinema -Jahmil Quebeka - Entertainment & Celebrities Gists

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