BY ‘DEOYE FALADE
With its riveting trailer that draws you in while not giving too much away, Imoh Umoren‘s upcoming Children of Mud caught my attention.
It wasn’t just the title, kids being at the centre of a Nollywood movie are a rarity and by going this route, the indie filmmaker surely has our attention.
TNS caught up with him for a brief chat and he was happy to engage us on his latest work, what he intends to achieve with it, and some other stuff…
A child-centric movie is unlike anything Nollywood has touched on in a while. What prompted you to go this route?
Children of Mud was prompted by a true life scenario. I’m from Akwa Ibom in the south of Nigeria and the issue of abandoned “witch” children is very prevalent. It’s something that has touched me a lot and I felt that if we show people the vulnerability of these kids as humans – scared little kids actually – maybe we can get some empathy. I mean, why must it take Anja Loven the Norwegian aid worker who rescued a street kid for us to come to terms with the fact that this insensitivity is inhuman? Why must we wait for a white messiah all the time instead of solving our own problems? With this film, I intend to guilt-trip people into considering their decisions.
Getting child actors can be a challenge because of a dearth of platforms targeted towards shaping them early. How did you navigate this?
Luckily for me, I’ve always been good with kids. Maryam was in my previous film, The Happyness Limited so we have a good working relationship. Still, it takes a lot of patience to find the right person to direct them for one to get the right performance and the hardest part is getting them to concentrate. I had just come off filming a series called Kishii and I worked with a lot of kids so I’d say I’ve been fortunate. It came easy.
What do you hope to achieve with this movie?
Like all my films, I’m hoping it stimulates conversation. It may not be the biggest film of the year but if it causes one person to help the next person then my work is done. We are going on a road trip with the film around the country to get this conversation started from the Almajiri culture up North, to the kids of school age hawking in traffic in the West, to kids accused of witchcraft being thrown from their homes in the South, abandoned babies. We are hoping in our own small way to sow the seeds of a mental revolution.
Theme aside, how is this different from your previous films – artistically speaking?
The Happyness Limited is a bit different from Children of Mud in terms of the camera style but basically, they are both deep, introspective human stories written to affect the way you view the ‘lesser people’. Essentially, my style is the same from Lemon Green till now.
When should we expect to see the movie hit our screens?
August…Children of Mud is out in August.