Award-winning South African/Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso is the director of the feature films “Man on Ground” and “God Is African“, the documentaries “Wole Soyinka – Child of the Forest,” “Gathering the Scattered Cousins” and the short “Jesus and the Giant” among other films and TV-productions. Omotoso is also an actor, with roles in Andrew Nicol’s Lord of War alongside Nicolas Cage, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame in “Shake Hands with the Devil” by Roger Spottiswoode, and in the South African TV-series “Generations” on his CV.

What is your first film memory?

I have a couple of film memories from between the age of 4 to 6, mainly because video had just come out and my parents were watching a lot of films that drifted in and out of my consciousness. My first memory is of Sidney Poitier, but I couldn’t tell you which film. It was probably a combination of his films but Poitier as a first film memory is not a bad one to have.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?

I decided to become a filmmaker because I love telling stories. I always loved telling stories and always loved stories. I wanted to be a novelist at first, but at drama school that notion turned into becoming a director.

Which already made film do you wish you had made?

Lumumba directed by Raoul Peck. The final image in that film is still among the best closing images I have seen, and the opening image of my latest film Man On Ground is a homage to it.

Name one of the films on your top-5 list and the reason why it is there.

Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash. It was the first film that I saw that had a non-linear narrative. At the time I didn’t understand what I was watching other than it was very confusing but intriguing at the same time. When I watched it again a second time I was blown away. It’s a beautiful film. The way the story is told, the way the African oral tradition is woven into cinematic realisation, the gorgeous cinematography, the music and the performances. A true visual feast.

Which question should I have asked? 

People always ask me “Do you think African Cinema has arrived?” I always reply “It never left.”

* The ‘5 Questions for a Filmmaker …’ series is archived here.

Photo Credit: Victor Dlamini.

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