I can't wait to see RELENTLESS, the debut film of my friend, Andy Amadi Okoroafor. Art director, visionary, nomad, founder/ owner of my favorite creative arts & fashion magazine, CLAM, Andy has been working for the last couple of years on this project that showcases his skill as a director and visual story teller. Shot in two different countries, Freetown Sierra Leone and Lagos Nigeria, the movie is not only visually beautiful but it also boasts an amazing soundtrack that will most likely become as iconic as the score for "Shaft or "The Harder They Come". A mixture of contemporary Nigerian music, 60's highlife tunes and popular African tunes, the films feature tracks from the Nubians, Keziah Jones, Patrice, Ayo, Femi Kuti, and internationally known artists like Manu Chao, Sade, Seal, among others. Also featuring in her debut film role another favorite, Nigerian-German singer NNEKA. As far as the story goes, Andy's own words describe it best:
"I see Relentless as a story told through innovative contemporary images. It is not a voyeuristic eye, it is participative and engaged, it is an insider perspective and the form of the images is a vital element of the film. I want the film to look under the surface, to look at Africa with a new intensity.
Relentless is a love story, a story about war, loneliness, and the workings of the human soul. It is a simple story of ordinary people finding themselves in extra ordinary situations, acting out their destiny. It is not a political story but it is about the effects of war and thus the backdrop is a component to the film, but not the hero.
Though set in Freetown Sierra Leone and Lagos Nigeria, the story could easily have been anywhere in Africa; Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Congo, Rwanda; It is an African story, but also a universal tale. An African story in its landscape and particular circumstances, but a universal story in its characters, its heart and theme.
Relentless deals with the consequence of wars on the psyche of the contemporary African. From Rwanda (genocide), the Congo (the African world war), Burundi (ethnic struggle for power) to Cote d'Ivoire and Darfur. Wars with different ramifications, and brutality, Liberia and later Sierra Leone was at the vanguard of these brutal conflicts of which the biafran war into which our hero Obi was born is one the first in a long list of conflicts that has distorted Africa.
The film has the ambition of exploring Africa beyond the news headlines, sound bites and statistics. It is about looking at Africa from a contemporary point of view. It's about the little people; the ones nobody reports after the satellite transmission dishes have been folded and moved to another cliché. I want Relentless to also be a mirror for African society to look at itself, criticise itself, and celebrate itself.
I am making this film so that Africans would love it and be challenged by it. The world hopefully would follow. I want anybody in the world to identify with the characters and emotions in the film. Africans are believers and we somehow believe a hero will come and save us, he's not shown up and the present African generation is still looking for the new Nkrumah’s, Mandela’s, people with vision and clarity of thought. Hard to produce in refugee camps, running under fire in a world of kid soldiers.
Relentless, is a celebration of Africa, the music, the sensuality, the joy, the jokes and the laughter, the energy, the sheltering sky and the hope that the good men will prevail. It is also a film about Lagos, the biggest African city and how ordinary people navigate this challenging untamed urban jungle. From the security guard to the prostitute, from the big time politician hoping to pull the strings of power, to the okada driver hoping to make it big.
Finally, it is an acknowledgement of the possibilities that lie in the modern African experience; it is to shine the world's light on us, if not for our ingenuity, at least the acknowledgement of our will to survive.
I am hoping to tell that African story through film, like Fela did with his Afro beat music and Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka did through literature and touched the world." ...to read more visit clamfilms.com
RELENTLESS will be featured at the 54th BFI London Film Festival on October 13-18, 2010. Stay tuned for US show dates