To even use the term ‘African cinema’ when describing the diversity and richness of myriad national film industries scattered across a huge continent, is to say the least slightly patronising. However, given the relative lack of exposure we have to it in Europe, it’s easy to slip into lazy generalisations. Whilst it’s a struggle for directors to get their films into festivals, those which screen are almost always a rewarding experience. This is the case with Arie and Chuko Esiri’s feature debut, Eyimofe (This is My Desire).
Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) and Rosa (Temiloluwa Ami-Williams) live and work in Lagos but both yearn to leave for a better live abroad. They don’t know each other but face different daily challenges which threaten these dreams. He’s a factory technician by day and repairs things by night; hoping to migrate to Spain. She is a hairdresser and bartender, who is looking after her pregnant younger sister (Cynthia Ebijie) and desperate to get them to Italy. As events spiral out of their control, leaving looks increasingly unlikely.
What impresses most about Eyimofe (This is My Desire) is just how level-headed it is. It would have been easy to get too obsessed with either story or take their repeated misfortunes and spin them into melodrama. Instead, we’re spun a tale about two people in Nigeria who represent many of the residents living towards the bottom end of the food chain in the capital. Beautifully shot and consummately acted, Eyimofe (This is My Desire) is a film which will resonate with anyone who has ever striven for something better.
Eyimofe (This is My Desire) is screening at London Film Festival until 14 October.