Abbesi Akhamie is Nigerian-American writer/director currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the New York University Graduate Film Program in May 2017 with an MFA in film. Her latest short film, “Still Water Runs Deep,” had its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. She is currently developing her first feature film.
Can you tell us about your film?
“Still Water Runs Deep” is a short film I wrote and directed. The film reflects a culmination of my upbringing growing up in a bicultural Nigerian and American home and my travels to my paternal homeland. It was filmed in my father’s village located in Afowa-Uzairue, Nigeria, in March 2017. The story follows a father who leads his household with a stern hand and assertiveness, but when his estranged son goes missing, his reluctant search turns into an unexpected journey to discover the truth. It is an intimate look at a man whose concealed emotions begin to stir when faced with the portent of a missing son.
Is your culture dictating your art or is your art informing the relationship with your culture?
Definitely both, but I do feel stronger to the fact that my culture influences my film. I’ve always had an interest in cultures growing up and it wasn’t until I had an opportunity to make films that my own culture really became a vocal inspiration. With my culture, things can feel familiar but then also new, and those moments are tucked away in memories and brought out when I’m writing. It happens naturally, and I’m so thankful that my culture gives me something that I want to talk about and share.
There are a lot of women in the African diaspora who would want to turn to the arts but are intimidated by lack of access or support. What would your advice be?
My advice would be to not even start if you are not ready to fight and persevere. A lifelong career in “art” is not for the faint of heart and there are many disappointments. I also come from a background where my access to resources and support are limited, but I do not allow that to get me down. I am learning that there are always going to be disappointments; one doesn’t get to a point where disappointments just magically stop and you have your artsy career, family, car, house, and maybe a dog. My question to anyone would be, what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Whatever that answer is, is what you should probably be doing.
For updates and screenings near you follow https://www.facebook.com/stillwaterrunsdeepfilm/