African Giants poster

Out of the Mailbag, Comes Songs and Stories: African Giants

Out of the Mailbag Comes Songs and Stories: African Giants
Writer/Director: Omar S. Kamara (MASS AVE)
Dillon Daniel Mutyaba, Omete Anassi, with Tanyell Waivers as Cori. 1Hour, 46 minutes

Review by John O’Brien, Jr.

Over a weekend visit in Los Angeles, two first-generation Sierra Leonean American brothers navigate the changing dynamics of brotherhood after a surprise announcement. Alhaji (Dillon Daniel Mutyaba) welcomes his little brother, Georgetown law student Sheku (Omete Anassi), and shows him the sights, as they get deeper into the memories, and their problems today, surprises to each of them. Some of those problems today simmer from the residual hurts in and around those memories.

African Giants is a film that is a conversation between two brothers, reunited, perhaps at the first times as adults. I never had those deep discussions with my siblings, remembering how our mom and dad brought us up, our faith, our careers; conversations with no agenda, just talks about where we, our parents came from, what they went through – and extremely interesting long conversation about anything, peppered with life experiences, memories, moldings.

It was very interesting to see the two main characters feed off each other, in good ways and bad. Resentments and great joys take turns as we learn about them and how they were formed. Two brothers brought up together, yet still very different in their beliefs and memories.

They evolve, right before our eyes. Their parent’s life lessons forged each, but of course, in different ways, with different memories of their life and their culture. Both Sheku and Alhaji are played by gifted actors, with an introspective but expressive skill that allows us to see what they are feeling, even though the other person in the conversation can’t seem to; you want to shout, “Tell them” but we rarely do.

Tensions mount, and we wonder, what happened? What has not been said, and why? Is it fear? Perhaps out of respect and perhaps because of their deep love for each other, not wishing to hurt anew?

African Giants poster
Sheku (Omete Anassi)

[Akhaji] “AKATA means rat. It is what people in Ghana called African Americans. I’m nothing like them. I didn’t come here in chains.”
[Sheku] “How are we going to change things if we don’t start confronting it in our personal lives? How are we supposed to move forward if the people closest to us don’t help us, push us, teach us?”
The brothers have received much wisdom from their upbringing and share it with each other in calm and in trial. If I see further, it is by standing on the shoulder of giants.

African Giants poster

I Highly recommend this film – you can see it at The Cleveland International Film Festival April 3 through 13, showing Thursday April 4th @4:50 p.m. and Friday April 5th at 7:25 p.m., both in the Ohio Theatre.

A few awards, to date:
World Premier: Slamdance Film Festival 2024 – Where African Giants was named Winner, Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature 
Pan African Film Festival – Nominated, Jury Award for Best Feature 
Cleveland Film Festival – Nominated, Best Independent Feature
Atlanta Film Festival, Official Selection
New African Film Festival – Closing Night Film
Phoenix Film Festival – Official Selection
San Luis Obispo Film Festival – Official Selection

Find John’s other Out of the Mialbag columns and others  HERE!

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27 years

John O'Brien, Jr.

*John is a Founder and the Publisher and Editor of iIrish, an archivist, spokesman, emcee, Spoken Word presenter and author of five books, (see below) so far.

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