“When is making a short zombie film an act of protest?
When the heroes and heroines are black. When there is no Sacrificial Negro to fulfill the fantasy that our lives matter less than white lives. When there is no cooning, shucking or jiving. When no black “Spiritual Guide” exists only to ennoble and enlighten white characters. When artists and backers unite to circumvent cultural barriers to tell our own stories.
As authors and screenwriters, we never set out to become filmmakers. But after years of options, pitches and meetings, we realized Hollywood is just a money machine following the ticket-buying habits of America as a whole. It will never lead. It was time to stop waiting for Hollywood to translate our stories to screen.”
Ghanaian filmmaker Frances Bodomo (Director of the Sundance film Boneshaker starring Quvenzhane Wallis) is seeking support for her next film project, Afronauts. Based on a true story, Afronauts tells an alternative history of the 1960s Space Race:
It’s July 16th 1969 and, as America prepares to send Apollo 11 to the moon, a group of exiles in the Zambian desert are rushing to launch their rocket first.
It’s an experimental sci-fi short film titled Applied Theories of Expanding Minds, that’s set in a future Kenya that has just freed itself from Chinese domination. This of course speaks to recent Sino-African relations, which have seen the Chinese become an increasingly stronger, powerful presence in African countries - what some have branded 21st century colonialsm.
In the film, a group of people within a future community in Kenya have decided to free themselves from years of oppression and no longer follow the usual Chinese customs. To replace the ways of the old Chinese colonizers, they instead organise their lives according to rules imposed by the magnetic fields of the Earth.
okay, hold up. i have been so upset about this. do you see this young man? he deserves a goddamn nomination if not being handed the fucking oscar, okay. here’s why:
1. this fucker had never acted before. he only was at the auditions because his brother was auditioning and he BRIBED him to come for A MOTHERFUCKING SUBWAY SANDWICH.
2. i don’t know if you know this, but there was NO tiger in any damn scene when he is on that damn boat. HE IS LOOKING AT AIR AND I BELIEVED THERE WAS A FUCKING TIGER IN THE MOVIE UNTIL AFTER I WATCHED AN INTERVIEW WHERE HE SAYS THERE’S NO DAMN TIGER. HE WAS SUCH A GOOD ACTOR I THOUGHT THERE WAS AN ACTUAL TIGER.
3. HE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM. look, this kid lied about being able to stay afloat, but HE LEARNED AT LIKE 18 TO SWIM FOR THIS MOVIE. HIS PART IN THE MOVIE IS SURROUNDED BY WATER. MAN, I’VE BEEN SWIMMING SINCE I WAS TWO AND I WOULD STILL BE DYING IF I WAS DOING HALF THE SHIT HE PUT UP WITH IN THAT WATER. HE COULDN’T SWIM. LIKE WATER WAS CONSTANTLY DROWNING HIM. I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF HE NEVER GOES NEAR THE WATER AGAIN AFTER THE AMOUNT OF TIME HE WAS ALMOST DROWNED.
4. if this is not enough to convince you, also look how cute he is and keep in mind that he NEVER GOT THAT FUCKING SUBWAY SANDWICH.
thank you for your time and if you haven’t seen the movie, go see it because it is amazing and i am very passionate about it as you can see.
Most of the footage shot of the Alien didn’t work, but there is one brief cut of Bolaji going through one of his miming routines in the suit, in the sequence where he attacks Veronica Cartwright. ”The idea,” says Bolaji, “was that the creature was supposed to be graceful as well as vicious, requiring slow, deliberate movements. But there was some action I had to do pretty quick. I remember having to kick Yaphet Kotto, throw him against the wall, and rush up to him. Veronica Cartwright was really terrified. After I fling Yaphet Kotto back with my tail, I turn to go after her, there’s blood in my mouth, and she was incredible. It wasn’t acting. She was scared.”
On that incredible costume:
HR Giger made the Alien suits worn by Bolaji and the stuntman out of latex, at a cost of more than $250,000. The suit consisted of some ten to fifteen separate pieces, worn over a one-piece black body suit, needed underneath to disguise the fact that the Alien fitted together in sections […] Bolaji likened wearing [the head] to having your head stuck up the middle of a huge banana.
“They must have had about 2000 tubes of K-Y Jelly […] just to get the effect of that slime coming out of his mouth.”
On that final scene where the Alien has stowed away in the shuttle:
“Bursting out of that compartment wasn’t easy,” exclaims Bolaji. “I must’ve ripped the suit two or three times coming out, and each time I’d climb down, the tail would rip off! But it wasn’t much of a problem for them, because they had more suits. I remember I had to repeat that action for about fifteen takes. Finally, I said, ‘No more!’ There was a lot of smoke, it was hard to breathe, and it was terribly hot.”
Via Shadow and Act (an African diaspora film blog, this is the second time today I’ve come across it, probably a good one to follow if you’re a movie buff).
Here’s test footage of Bolaji Badejo, the actor who played the Alien, rehearsing on set with just the head on. One Youtube commenter advises, “do NOT watch this high, it terrified me”.