Over a weekend visit in Los Angeles, two first-generation Sierra Leonean American brothers navigate the changing dynamics of brotherhood after a surprise announcement.
Written, directed, and produced by Omar S. Kamara, African Giants is an extremely personal story to the first-generation Sierra Leonean-American filmmaker. Breakout-in-the-making talents Dillon Daniel Mutyaba and Omete Anassi star as brothers Alhaji and Sheku in caring, lived-in performances that go deep into the heart of the lived experience of the African diaspora.
Both Mutyaba and Anassi portray their respective characters well. I think they also benefited from a script that was reflective of their individual and combined life experiences. This lived experience is what this particular story requires; making it all more authentic.
As a first feature film, African Giants is a rich story. The film is a love letter to brotherhood. There are many aspects of the film that I appreciate, such as, being witness to the brothers in moments of vulnerability, moments of truth, moments of struggle, and moments of love.
African Giants is complemented well by Jonas Fischer‘s cinematography. There were moments where I was reminded of Moonlight (starring Mahershala Ali) in terms of the lighting and composition. The music by Justin Schornstein adds another layer to the film that is clearly specific to this story about two brothers who also happened to be Sierra Leonean-American, and whose identities also have many layers.
I had the pleausure of speaking with Kamara prior to the film’s premiere at Slamdance Film Festival. Here, he shares his inspiration for the film, the casting, the film’s music, and the importance of telling these specific yet universal stories.