February 5, 2015
Sundance Institute premiered the winners of a Short Film Challengelaunched last year – an international shorts program designed to spark global conversation highlighting human ingenuity and the imaginative solutions real people are creating to overcome challenges such as extreme hunger and poverty.
One of the winners of the Sundance Institute’s Short Film Challenge – an international shorts program designed to spark global conversation highlighting human ingenuity and the imaginative solutions real people are creating to overcome challenges such as extreme hunger and poverty – is A Will Of Iron, directed by Seyi Fabunmi and Mobolaji Adeolu from Nigeria. A true life story of a homeless blacksmith living under the Third Mainland Bridge (the longest bridge in Africa) in Lagos for 15 years. A home he now shares with his wife and baby. He speaks of his struggles, hopes, and dreams.
Mobolaji Adeolu tells allAfrica about the road that led him to the Sundance Film Festival…
I came across a project on Tongal.com (The Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge) while surfing the internet one day.
The project was designed to use the transformative power of storytelling to generate discussion, shift perceptions around extreme hunger and poverty, and harness the power of independent film to create a global conversation about these issues.
Fortunately, I had shot my film shortly before I found the opportunity – and it checked all the points of themes on poverty and homelessness.
I have been focusing on inspiring individuals doing good work despite their dire challenges and circumstances. People who make use of what they have to make a living for themselves. I want the world to hear and see their stories, and hopefully motivate them, to help them, and give them the right resources to grow.
My film was selected to be part of the five winning narrative and documentary short films from 1,387 submissions representing 69 different countries with support from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Why was this story so important to tell?
A Will of Iron is a very inspiring story of resilience in relation to the human spirit, a journey into the world of a man who is so inspired even in the face of dire circumstances, creating imaginative solutions to overcome his challenge of homelessness and poverty.
I was particularly moved by his positive energy and desire to excel if given the right environment to thrive, so I wanted his voice to be heard.
What kind of impact has the film made on those who have seen it at Sundance?
It’s actually been fantastic because people who saw were moved to offer him accomodation, and not only Nigerians but also others to reach out to people who are not financially stable. I’ve been getting calls asking if I’m going to do a follow-up on the blacksmith – asking what’s next from here. This has been very, very encouraging because hopefully they will get a proper living space.
And the impact on your life and future plans?
Attending the festival has helped me appreciate the power of good storytelling and collaboration in dealing with social change issues.
Also the Festival has given me a huge platform to inspire a global audience to be motivated to use their strengths to combat social change issues through more stories I will be telling.
When I do the follow-up to A Will of Iron, it will focus on the other communities living under the bridge. This documentary was meant to be a two-part series on the second one would be about the Wood Village, an industry where heavy timber is transported under the bridge, then workers process the logs and send it out in to the city for building houses and repairing roofs.
This 11km-long bridge is a manufacturing hub, it’s amazing that most of what is being created under the bridge is being consumed even by wealthy people in Lagos, including the smoking of fish that is delivered to some of the upmarket restaurants.
Source: All Africa