Words By Manuel Domingos
Six months ago, John Boyega and Converse joined forces on the ‘Create Next Film Project’ to nurture a new generation of rising Black filmmakers. The All Stars Program by Converse, that launched in 2020 and brought us this project, is a robust community-focused ecosystem of mentorship, commissions and funding that aims to create new opportunities for young creatives.
Over the last six months, five London filmmakers; Lorraine Khamali (22), Ibrahim Muhammad (19), Kaylen Francis (23), Kemi Anna Adeeko (22) and Ade Femzo (21) have each written, directed and produced their own five-minute short film, which premiered in London’s Curzon Cinema on Tuesday 12th April.
It is a great opportunity for them to realise their talent to create films that they feel needs to be seen. At this stage of their career it is a good initiative to have… Everyone is talking about ‘America’, I am trying to establish something here. – John Boyega
Zig Zag uses the charm of 90s aesthetics, soothing crisp guitar music in the background and a young boy desperate to cling onto his treasured cassette tape to keep us engaged and intrigued. In terms of story, it was uneventful but that is what makes it so enjoyable. I wasn’t fixated on the ongoings of the story nor was I waiting for something to develop, I was just happy to appreciate each scene offered to us. I can’t speak on the intention its creator, Lorraine Khamali, had for this film but what I took from it was to take in and appreciate what is around you.
I wanted the film to feel nostalgic, I wanted it to feel like a distant memory because it’s inspired by fragments of childhood memories – Lorraine Khamali
Absent fathers within black families have often been explored throughout media. Along with the affects it has on the women and children that they leave behind, especially the emotions and trauma that arises on the back of their regretful decisions. Ibrahim Muhammad uses this too often occurring occurrence coupled with the weight that children of ill parents must take on, to tell us a story about anger, regret and forgiveness. In a short space of time, Ibrahim managed to give the protagonist a satisfying character arc with a pleasant conclusion. The conversation that the daughter and father had felt honest and genuine but that could only work with the quality offered by performers Kadiesha Belgrave & Vinta Morgan.
This is a story that a lot of people from my community go through – Ibrahim Muhammad
Kaylen Francis uses newscaster segments at the beginning of the film to quickly establish lore and to explain the circumstance that our protagonist is in. Conceptually, this was my favourite out of the five. How often do we see black British superheroes? However, I was slightly disappointed with the performance, especially the chemistry our performers had with each other. The film ended with a twist, leaving me anxiously awaiting answers as to how and why the former glorified hero has now become a fugitive. Even with my criticism, I hope to see this story further explored.
I’ve never seen a black British superhero film, I wanted to do that – Kaylen Francis
Stuck focuses on an experience that our parents, grandparents and so on have had to go through. Arriving at a foreign land, surrounded by many that don’t look like them and are quickly made to feel uncomfortable because of that fact. A mischievous little girl and two loving parents with good comedic timing kept me entertained. I would have liked for the short story itself to have contained a bit more exploration of the family members characteristics or for there to have been a hurdle that they were actively attempting to overcome rather than the passive approach. But this story was personal to Kemi Anna Adeeko and it was clear to see as she spoke about the film during the night.
I pulled from personal experiences… the most natural thing was to talk from real life. I wanted to share that through the lens of a black girl – Kemi Anna Adeeko
Before the film started rolling, we spent a few moments with the directors and getting to know them. Ade Femzo’s personality stood out the most, he was energetic, confident, and engaging. All of this translated into Drop Out a film he directed, written, and starred in as Toby. Perfect comedic timing from both him and Kemi Lofinmakin, neither missed a beat, kept the audience in stitches. Ade tells the story of what many of us have had to struggle with, telling our parents that we don’t want to follow their dreams of us. Ade then adds an element of fantasy with a watch that turns back time and keeps returning to the moment Toby is about to tell his mother that he’s going to drop out of university. Each time he goes back, he creates a new excuse in hopes to finally hear her say ‘yes’.
As a creator you get moments where you’re not too sure whether this is for you. Being part of this makes me realise that (it is for me) and I am not looking back – Ade Femzo
Even with some of the criticism that I had, it is good to remember that these are young filmmakers and for some, their very first project. There is only improvement from this moment on and I am looking forward to seeing how each of them develops.