As Joseph a. Adesunloye prepares to premiere his feature length debut at the BFI London Film Festival, we talk to the director about the journey of the movie

 
 

Emerging filmmaker Joseph a. Adesunloye debuts the trailer to his movie White Colour Black this week on Nataal, which has also just been selected to premiere at the 60th BFI London Film Festival in October. The film features boxer and model turned actor Dudley O’Shaughnessy who originally rose to infamy in Rihanna’s We Found Love video. He plays Leke, a photographer enjoying a wild lifestyle in London who travels to Senegal when his estranged father dies. O’Shaughnessy stars alongside Nataal co-founder Alassane Sy (Mediterranea), poet Yrsa Daley-Ward (Shameless) and established Nigerian actor Wale Ojo (Half of a Yellow Sun). It’s a story of fear and love, of travel and culture and ultimately, transformation.

Born in Lagos, Adesunloye studied at the University of Aberdeen and the London Film Academy. In 2008 he established Screening Africa, a non-profit encouraging the diversity of African filmmaking, and he’s since worked as a writer, director and producer on a number of well-received shorts. White Colour Black is his first full-length feature and marks him out as one to watch in independent cinema. Here we find out what makes him tick.

Tell us about your career so far.
I have been making art house films for 10 years. Previous to White Colour Black I had only directed shorter content, each one a great lesson and push forward. My last short film Beyond Plain premiered at Raindance and was nominated Best British Short Film, which was a real turning point for me.

How did White Colour Black first take shape?
In 2014 I started writing the story for White Colour Black, which was loosely inspired by the death of my own father a few years earlier. For me, it is a film about journeys. As well as going on a physical journey, Leke goes on a journey within himself.

How would you describe your directing style?
My films tend to take their time to unfold and explore. I also like human stories, so character becomes more important to me than narrative.

Tell us about your cast.
Dudley plays Leke flawlessly and I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Wale Ojo and Alassane Sy over the years so it was great to be able to pull them into this project too. Yrsa Daley-Ward is also such an incredible talent - I love her poetry and creativity as a person.

How did you find filming in Senegal?
Senegal, with its strong and established space in African cinema, was a natural choice. And what a beautiful country - the people are so relaxed and welcoming. The whole process happened fairly quickly but I think filming at the Pink Lake and Popenguine have to be up there as highlights.

What messages do you hope viewers take away from the film?
The fact that time doesn't wait for you, you have to move. But it s also incredibly important to learn to be at one with yourself and like the life that you're living. Do you like your life? Really like it?

How do you feel about its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival?
It is very satisfying and a good pay off for all the effort that the cast and crew put into this film. BFI London Film Festival is a festival I love and being part of it in its 60th year is very special. It feels fantastic to be able to showcase the film on home turf on its way to a global audience.

White Colour Black screens on 15 October at Vue Cinema and on 16 October at the Ritzy as part of the BFI London Film Festival