5 Questions for a Filmmaker–Teddy Goitom

Teddy Goitom is a Swedish-Ethiopian/Eritrean content producer and the founder of Stocktown (1998), “a cultural movement celebrating creativity and freedom of souls”, which includes a curated video magazine founded in 2011 as well as the Afripedia-series, which AIAC has covered here. Though his base is in Stockholm, this curious and hard-working creative is constantly shifting between times and places, producing documentaries and creative content online and elsewhere, together with an ever-growing network of creatives. Stocktown has created two TV-series, Stocktown – A Global Underground Journey and Stocktown Africa, and a feature length documentary will be produced in 2015.

What is your first film memory?

I was around seven years old when I found a VHS-tape with The good the bad and the ugly by Sergio Leone. That summer I had the film on repeat and watched it several times a day. I was totally obsessed by it – the music, every scene – and I’d memorize every line and imitate every characters Though my mom used to force me to play outside, I’d always found a way to come back in and watch the film again, and discover something new in it every time.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?

I never decided to become a filmmaker and never went to film school. I’m actually still in the process of finding out if that’s what I am. I see myself more as a storyteller.

Ever since I started the Stocktown movement in 1998, I have been interested in building new platforms and finding new ways to broadcast untold and inspiring stories. Whether I produce music events, art exhibitions, documentaries or using new technology to stream stories to a broader audience doesn’t really matter. What matters is story.

Which film do you wish you had made and why?

Enter The Dragon with Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly and John Saxon.

As a young kid, to see a black martial arts hero fighting on the same side as Bruce Lee was groundbreaking. Though we never really got to know Williams, who was played by Jim Kelly and who gets killed way too early, he was the reason I became interested in and started to explore the blaxplotation scene. In my remake, Williams’s story would get much more attention and obviously be much more interesting.

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

Beat Street (1984) opened my eyes to the hiphop scene, which I immediately identified with and which inspired me. It was completely different to films like Saturday Night Fever, like a mix between a musical and a realistic portrayal – almost documentary like – of an underground culture scene that was fresh, dynamic  and transcending geographical and other borders. As I connected to it, I realised the enormous power of film.

Ask yourself any question you think I should have asked and answer it.

“What motivated you to make your last documentary series Afripedia?”

First and foremost: curiosity first and foremost, but also the realisation that there are so many contexts, perspectives and dimensions out there that no one has ever heard about. We put the spotlight on them and make sure that they become known to the world. Our audience consists of people across the world, who are interested in finding out about and connect to creativity regardless of where and how it appears.

Further Reading

Beyond the headlines

Recent violence across the Eritrean diaspora is being instrumentalized by populists. But the violence is a desperate cry for attention and requires the Eritrean opposition to seize the moment for regime change.

Action required

Held in Nairobi this month, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit is an important step for the continent’s response to climate change. Still, the disasters in Libya and Morocco underscore that rhetoric and declarations are not enough.

The strange non-death of Bantustans

That South African political parties across the spectrum were quick to venerate the politician and Zulu prince Mangosutho Buthelezi, who died last week, demonstrates that the country is still attached to Bantustan ideology.

Shifting the guilt

Even though Israeli novelist Agur Schiff’s latest book is meant to be a satirical reflection on the legacy of slavery and stereotypes about Africa, it ends up reinforcing them.

Banana Republics

Western leftists are arguing among themselves about whether there will be bananas under socialism. In Africa, however, bananas do not necessarily represent the vagaries of capitalism.