‘Èjè (Blood)’ is a short film sure to provoke long conversations

Filmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede, in his narrative directorial debut, takes a brave stab at African storytelling.

2021-06-15 09:08:00 PM

Filmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede, in his narrative directorial debut, takes a brave stab at African storytelling.

Filmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede, in his narrative directorial debut, takes a brave stab at African storytelling.

Image:SuppliedFilmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede, in his narrative directorial debut, takes a brave stab at African storytelling, building a base for a film that takes the audience on a wild ride that explores human connection to reality, spirituality and other-worldly materiality.

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Expected to debut at this year’s Durban International Film Festival,Èjè (Blood)follows Lara, a young woman who unwitting journeys into a “reality” beyond the physical world, time and space when she responds to an online advert for a babysitter.

Her mind can’t make sense of what transpires in the house of her new employer, nor can she convince those around her, until she crosses paths with an old woman who paints a picture to fill the spaces in her memory and understanding.Played by Nqobile Khumalo, Lara is plunged deep in the throes of the spiritual world, not knowing where the truth as she knows it starts and ends, and where the spiritual takes over. headtopics.com

Èjèexplores spirituality and African folklore and humanity’s strong link with blood, one of the main themes of the film.Vusi Kunene, Akin Omotoso, Deborah Lettner, Elizabeth Phoolo and the late Anthony Bishop lend their talents to the short film.

TimesLIVE sat down with Lojede to get insight into what motivated the movie—and where going through this door will take the viewer:Who is Fabian Adeoye Lojede, the filmmaker? What drives you and what impact are you striving for as an African storyteller?

Filmmaker Fabian Adeoye Lojede.Image:SuppliedAs a filmmaker, I want to tell African narratives. The kind of African narratives I want to tell are very indigenous and to kind of put our own perspectives, our history, our culture, whether modern or ancient, on the global stage. That is what drives me and that’s also the kind of impact I would like to create.

I think it will be nice for us to have African films that have the kind of impact that African literature has had from the likes of Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe’sThings Fall Apart.I’m not necessarily saying we need to do film adaptations of that; I’m saying the kind of impact headtopics.com

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Things Fall Aparthas, and it is very uniquely African, but at the same time he [Achebe] deals with a lot of global themes. No-one could have told that story but an African, at least in the way Chinua Achebe told it.I would like to see African films that have the same kind of impact. We’re not trying to appeal to a western audience, we’re not trying to get an Oscar or trying to make people understand us from their perspective. We’re telling our perspective and forcing them to understand in our own language, from our own point of view.

What is the inspiration behind the movie?There were a number of inspirations. There’s the Rh-negative blood type which is a great inspiration in terms of the idea that only 15% of people are Rh-negative in the world and all the theories that have been formulated around that that people who are Rh-negative are aliens, they are spirits.

The other inspiration was stories I’d heard growing up. Spectrophilia, which is when people are attracted or believe they’ve had sexual encounters with ghosts was another inspiration. Those were the elements that inspired this fictional storyWhat’s the symbolic significance of blood, which is a strong theme in the movie, especially in an African context?

South Africans can watch 'Èjè (Blood)' at the Durban International Film Festival.Image:SuppliedBlood is important in so many aspects. Obviously it helps to carry oxygen so it is life, in a way, but at the same time for us, especially as Africans, bloodline is also very important. Even blood sacrifice. You tend to find a lot of us speak about our lineage but that there’s the cultural lineage, there’s also that blood lineage of your family, your ancestors. headtopics.com

The whole Rh-negative thing i's also linked to blood. There’s a lot of mythological storylines and stories that come out of Africa which is also a link to our ancestors. Blood and the colour red symbolise that in a way in the film.How much research did you do for the project and why?

Quite a lot of research but I didn’t want the research to cloud my ability to create a fictional story. I didn’t want the film to end up being some kind of documentary so I did enough research not to be clouded by it all.I didn’t take sides, whether it was the conspiracy theorists or the scientific element. I wanted to be a creative and tell a fictional story.

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How long did filming take? What were the challenges you faced and overcame?The main challenges were finances. It was a self-funded project so that was quite hard. The actual shooting of the film was over about four days, but post-production has taken well over a year. One of the main challenges aside from finance was some of the VFX [visual effects] we had to do.

I had to figure out a way I could create the world I wanted to create with the finance I had available, so that was quite challenging. Fortunately I had great people working with me who helped me overcome those challenges.On the set. 'Èjè' took four days to film.

Image:SuppliedWhere can people view it?It will premiere at the Durban International Film Festival this year, so we’re excited about that. Africans can view it at the Durban Film Festival, which is also an opportunity for everybody to support SA film.The Durban International Film Festival will announce the programming from June 22 to 25, so watch out for that.

Any future plans for the project?As much as it is a short film, it is also a snippets of something bigger to come, so we want to take the concept into a high-end series or a feature film. From the feedback we got from the media screening, we know that strategy is best because everybody was calling for more.

What do you want the viewer to come away with after watchingÈjè?Everybody should have an open mind, but at the same time know we have amazing stories out there that are uniquely African and we need to find ways to tell them. Read more: Sunday Times »

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