Peckham filmmaker Adeyemi Michael’s new work Entitled has featured as part of Channel 4’s prestigious Random Acts short film strand.
Starring and narrated by Adeyemi’s mother, Abosede Ajao, the young director describes Entitled as a “fantasy documentary”.
The film reimagines his mother’s idea of moving from Nigeria to Peckham. It features arresting images of her moving through the streets of SE15 on horseback, dressed in striking traditional clothing – a yellow iro and buba and a purple gele.
“The reaction’s been brilliant,” Adeyemi said of the film. “The genesis of Entitled was a few years back. It’s something I’ve been working on and thinking about for a long time as a way of reflecting on my mum’s existence here in the UK.
“It’s just over 30 years since my family came to the UK from Nigeria. The film is about the immigrant experience as seen through an immigrant fantasy.
“The original inspiration was thinking about how I could talk about first generation immigrant experience and reflect on the idea of what the fantasy of being an immigrant looked like.
“Making the fantasy a reality was what I was trying to do. At the same time I’m making reference to and making a point about the colonial relationship about the country my mum and I come from – Nigeria – and the UK.”
How did Adeyemi’s mother feel about getting on a horse? (The horse is something of a celebrity itself, having appeared in Peaky Blinders, Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones among others).
“Mothers will do anything for their children,” he laughs. “She’d never ridden a horse before, but her reaction was, ‘It’s for my son, my son’s making a film about me so I’m here!’
“Also, if you look at her, she looks unfazed – because she was. Women are just so strong and my mum embodies what many women do on an everyday basis. She smashed it!”
Entitled is Adeyemi’s first film since his acclaimed debut documentary Sodiq was released in 2013. So where has he been? “I’ve been working quietly in television for the past five years or so, but those aren’t ‘Adeyemi Michael films’. That’s work, the day job,” he explains.
“I’m not a robot when it comes to ideas I care about. For me, it’s about making work of substance. I take my time and I don’t want to put work out there that I can’t stand by.
“But I’ve got several projects waiting to go now, including a feature film documentary that I’m currently in production with.”
Watch Entitled at tinyurl.com/entitledfilm