Akin Omotoso: From local to global

Director of Man on Ground, Akin Omotoso. (Gallo)

Director of Man on Ground, Akin Omotoso. (Gallo)

Andile Nayika caught up with him to speak about the success of his latest award-winning movie Man On Ground and more.

How you feel about the success of Man On Ground?
The film has enjoyed great success in a short spate of time. From its premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival in September last year, to being selected as the only South African film at The Berlin International Film Festival, plus two awards at the African Movie Academy Awards (including Best Supporting Actor award for Fana Mokoena) to recently winning Best Director, Best Editor, Best Producer and Best DOP at the TAVA Awards. The audiences have been fantastic and the reviews have been dreamlike. Next step is taking it to the people.

And how do you feel about its success?
I am just proud of the entire team. From the producers Rosie Motene, AK Tshabalala, Fabian Adeoye Lojede and Hakeem Kae-Kazim, our crowd funders, the support from International Organisation of Migration, the National Film and Video Foundation and the Gauteng Film Commission, our wonderful cast and crew. Knowing where we came from… I am the happiest guy in the land.

What have been some of the more memorable responses you have received on the film so far?
The premiere in Toronto was amazing, the first screening in South Africa was electric, in Berlin it played on two screens during the film festival and both screens were packed, but the one moment I will always remember was in Washington during the Q and A. The audience spoke about xenophobia and racism in their community. They were able to see themselves in the characters even though the film is set here, we always wanted the universality of the story to translate and that was affirmed that night in DC.

And critical responses?
Well, there is always 'that guy'…

What is different about Man On Ground, compared to your previous movies: God is African, Gathering the Scattered Cousins, Jesus and the Giant and Wole Soyinka: Child of the Forest?
I wouldn't have been able to make Man On Ground without making those films. I believe film making is a marathon and those films and this one are part of the journey.

Do you feel that the issue of xenophobia in Africa is addressed enough by the African film industry?
Absolutely. There is Khalo Matabane's Conversations On A Sunday Afternoon, Zola Maseko's The Foreigner, Jahmil Quebeka's A Small Town Called Descent, Adze Ugah's The Burning Man.

When  can we expect to see you in front of the camera again?
In my next film called Tell Me Sweet Something, I will be acting in it as well. It's a romantic comedy.

Tell me more about your future plans in the film industry.
Like I said, it a marathon, and I am looking forward to the continued journey.



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