How much do we really know about the ones we love the most? The people closest to us. As children we naturally concentrate on what’s directly in front of us and it’s rare to think about what our parents’ lives were like before we came along. As we get older, we become more inquisitive and interested, but our own work and families can get in the way. Sometimes these conversations simply never happen.
This is not the case for Jide Tom Akinleminu. In the process of filming his father in Nigeria, he learned something that would change his life. His mum, who is Danish, met his did when he was studying agriculture. They lived on his farm for 16 years but in the instability in the African country led to her leaving for Europe with the children. He remained and, despite them still being married, secretly had another family. When a Farm Goes Aflame charts the director’s quest for answers.
When a Farm Goes Aflame is a fascinating documentary about a son trying to uncover the truth about his father. The man in question, Akin, isn’t really interested in talking, but Jide manages to press him on certain points. Much of the focus is on his mother, Grete, and her life after learning the truth. As well as reactions of siblings and relatives. As a troubled family portrait, it works really well. When a Farm Goes Aflame could use a trim and a stronger focal point but is an enthralling portrait of a man striving for answers.
When a Farm Goes Aflame screens at London Film Festival.