Film Review: Unearthed Narrative | DBK Shorts

Words By Manuel Domingos

Thursday 31st March, I make my way to Vue Leicester Square with not much information regarding DBK and Unearthed Narratives. However instantly when the directors and writers of all 5 short films spoke, you could feel the sense of community and appreciation that the filmmakers and other producers have for each other. The sentence “this was like film school to me” or “this is my directorial debut” was often mentioned, highlighting that for some, this is the first opportunity of such scale that they have been given.

DBK Studios, a production company, was founded by Koby Adom and aims to offer opportunities for stories from under-represented British creatives to be told. 

Unearthed Narratives was brought to light by Manpreet Dosanjh commissioning editor for Sky Studios in partnership with DBK Studios – executive producers for the show are Koby Adom, Dola Araoye and Domenique Fragale and lead producer Danielle Goff.

They are set for release between 4th-8th April on:

SKY: 130 & 826|FREEVIEW: 11|VIRGIN: 123 & 156|NOW: CATCH UP

“when someone says, ‘be a man’ I feel like there is a million ways to be a man” –  Edem Wornoo

Butterfly Affect attempts to tackle our perception of what masculinity is and should be. This story follows the inner conflict that Iris goes through, as a young black man, accepting himself while being pressured not to by those around him. An aspiring ballet dancer with a violent brute as role model attempts to navigate his life by hiding his passion. A scene of the younger version of our protagonist while debt collecting with his cousin showcases the director’s talents in creating captivating imagery that perfectly encapsulate the film’s theme. Iris is pressured to act violently towards this unknown sufferer, hammering down a brick at his hand as the victim yelps helplessly all while classical music for ballet dance plays elegantly in the background, the juxtaposition of the tranquil piano keys and the acts of violence highlight the complexity of a human.

“my grandma was telling story after story and this was just one of them” – Tẹniọla Zara King

The opening scene of Teju’s Tale informs the audience of our protagonist’s motivation but also their upcoming challenges. While I first worried that mistreatment and ignorance would be at the forefront of this story, I was pleasantly surprised about what the true intention of this tale was, sisterhood. Shared experiences good or bad have often been the cornerstones in creating bonds, Tẹniọla Zara King uses these experiences to explore the relationship of two black women who are culturally different but share similar feelings and experiences during their time in this foreign country. They exchange kind words, loving memories, witty lines and encourage child-like actions amongst each other. Their relationship was truly heartwarming and even when their bond was being tested, the result of it left me with a full heart and a wide grin.

“I have a weird relationship with Social Media, it can do a lot of good but also a lot of harm” – Jessica Magaye

Daddy’s Girl is a black mirror-esque short film that could potentially be predicting the future for a lot of people within this country. It covers a lot of issues in a short space of time; adjusting to the death of a family member, dealing with debt, looking after an aging and sick parent and the influence social media has on the actions you take. Social Media is its own character in this short film and being the match that sets alight the tension that was already there leading to the conflict between father and daughter

“Watching it, and knowing the impact it could make, has made my night” – Nikki Fagbemi

Why Me? Follows Naima, an uninspiring bookies assistant throughout the day as she attempts to juggle family commitments, grief, work stress and pain. Throughout the film we watch as Naima attempts to hide her invisible illness, pretending that everything is okay until it isn’t. Naima is portrayed by Nikki Fagbemi who also wrote this film and it’s her performance throughout that makes the film what it is. Effortlessly humorous throughout but when called upon to emotionally move the audience she does just that. A tear-jerking scene as she finally expresses the pain of living with Sickle Cell, an illness that the actress herself suffers from along with 1 in 10 black Brits. An illness that you are born with and have little to no control on how to deal with; it that would make anyone question, Why Me?

“I wanted to ensure that I did her [Pastor Mimi] story justice” – Charlene Wango

I had to take my glasses off towards the end of the film as my glasses were being filled up with tears. It was not an easy watch but sometimes art needs to be uncomfortable. Fields explores possibly the most used topic within black British media, young black men, and violence, but via the perspective of a woman who is a mother, community leader and youth pastor. Pastor Mimi is a real person and this her story, but it is also the story of many other mothers not only the mothers of victims but also the mothers of the offenders. We’ve met these women and have witnessed their suffering, Charlene Wango highlights how violence effects those around them. Emotionally heavy and it took a great performance from Kemi Lofinmakin to compliment this brilliantly directed and written short film.



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