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A Song From The Dark… Okpue’s first big fruit as director

By Shaibu Husseini
22 October 2022   |   4:01 am
UK-based award winning multidisciplinary designer and creative director, Ogodinife Okpue, is not new to filmmaking. The filmmaker who is simply called Ogo Okpue has produced and directed a couple of short films that have been nominated and screened at various UK and International festivals and events such as London Independent Film Festival, British Urban Film…

UK-based award winning multidisciplinary designer and creative director, Ogodinife Okpue, is not new to filmmaking.

The filmmaker who is simply called Ogo Okpue has produced and directed a couple of short films that have been nominated and screened at various UK and International festivals and events such as London Independent Film Festival, British Urban Film Festival, Crystal Palace Intl Festival, Creative Arts Festival, African International Film Festival, Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards and KUSH Film Exhibitions in UK.

Okpue equally runs Adverto Studios whose client list includes, SKY, BBC, A+E Networks (History, Lifetime, and Crime Investigation), NBC Universal, ITV, BT Sports, Facebook, Coca Cola, Adobe, Citi Group and Prada. However, the filmmaker has moved from producing and directing short films, to producing features.

Okpue recently unveiled the first glimpses of his first feature film as a director titled A Song From The Dark, starring Nollywood’s Nse Ikpe Etim, Wale Ojo alongside gripping performances from British Ghanaian Vanessa Vanderpuye, Lola Wayne, Garcia Brown, Peace Oseyenum and Paul Coster amongst others.

Promoted as a fantasy-horror, positioned to ingrain heroes and heroines of African traditional mysticism with similar audacity as western films have entrenched the Superman, Wonderwoman and Ironman, Okpue, whose short films like Saving Cain, Cat Face have been recognised and screened at major film festivals around the world, said the film draws a lot of inspiration from the stories he heard as a child whenever he visited the village with his parents.

“The inspiration of the story dates back to a certain period of my childhood when my family would visit my grandmother in our village. She happened to be a well-respected traditionalist. Tales of her would intrigue us and as I grew older, I regretted not knowing her more. She was an enigma and I wondered what it would have been like if some of her tales were captured in books. The world of African mysticism has not been explored enough in world cinema. And most times, it is vilified. America has Superman and Ironman; the United Kingdom has James Bond and Harry Potter. Japan and China have Flying Swordsmen and mystical Ninjas, India has Tonnes. What do we have? I think in Africa, our superheroes have slept long enough; African stories are as diverse and as entertaining as the continent itself, so I thought ‘why not add more African heroes to the fictional world of cinema?”

Slated for formal release in 2023, Okpue who was born in northern Nigeria and raised in Lagos described A Song From The Dark as a film that is unlike any film seen in the black cinematic landscape.

“Some call it ‘Lovecraft country meets Buffy the vampire slayer but with a Nigerian spin.’ With striking visuals, suspense-filled scenes and engaging performances, A Song from the Dark is not your typical horror film. If anything, it embraces suspense and drama like the great horror classics so there is something in the story for non-horror fans as well. At the heart of it, is is a family drama and a cautionary tale with poignant social commentary. It’s confident blend of drama and multilayered subtexts will leave viewers reaching for repeat viewing and days long post credit conversations,’’ he said.

A Song From The Dark revolves around Ashionye (Vanessa Vanderpuye), a reluctant Nigerian Shaman living in the south of England, who finds herself standing against a familiar force that brought about her trauma since childhood. Produced with a diverse cast and crew that have been involved in various high end British and West African productions over their careers, Okpue’s A Song From The Dark earned the 2022 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in categories such as: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Award for First Feature by a Director, Michael Anyiam Osigwe Award for Best Film by an African-born Director Living Abroad and Award for Best Achievement in Make-Up.

Okpue who holds a degree in Computer Science and an MA in digital film and animation from London Metropolitan University is encouraged by the nominations and look forward to a successful outing, just as he looks forward to his debut feature film travelling universally.

“This was one project my cast and crew were proud to be a part of and they hope to see it travel globally; I hope so too. Africa needs stories that can travel universally. As a Nigerian British filmmaker, my goal is to help bring African stories to a global stage, just as the great Japanese, Chinese, South Korean and American film legends I admire and grew up on brought their stories to the rest of the world and we embraced it. African stories are as diverse and as entertaining as the continent itself. And I am proud to be one of her storytellers,’’ he submitted.