Eyimofe Star, Temi Ami-Williams, wins best young actor at FESPACO
Temi Ami-Williams, lead actress in the award-winning Nigerian feature film, Eyimofe (This Is My Desire), made history at the just concluded FESPACO 2021 in Ouagadougou, where she emerged Best Young Actor from West Africa.
The award, which is accompanied by a cash award of CFA 1 million, recognises the work of young West African film actors, aged 30 or less, who has distinguished herself/himself by her/his acting in a fictional film in competition at FESPACO 2021.
Nollywood’s Clarion Chukwurah was the first Nigeria to win a FESPACO prize when she emerged Best Actress prize back in 1985, for her role in Ola Balogun’s Owo L’agba (Money Power).
Nigeria’s Newton Aduaka had also won the grand prize – the Golden Stallion of Yennenga – for his 2007 film Ezra, the drama, based on the decade long civil war in Sierra Leone, but it was registered as a European coproduction.
Also known as Festival pan-Africain du Cinema et de la Television de Ouagadougou, or FESPACO for short, the biennial award was instituted in 1969 and is now in its 28th edition. This year’s FESPACO grand prize went to The Gravedigger’s Wife, a film by Finish-Somali director Khadar Ahmed.
Held at the Burkinababe Capital from October 16 to 23, this year’s FESPACO was initially set for February 27 to March 6, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Miss Ami-Williams might not have had any experience with film acting prior to Eyimofe, despite being a graduate of Theatre Arts, but she found it easy to play the character of Rosa in the GDN Studios-produced film.
In a chat with The Guardian, Ami-Williams, who has taught at a school for autistic children and was into costume designing before making her on-screen debut in Eyimofe, said she could easily connect and resonate with Rosa as she has already lived through it.
“Eyimofe is my first film, so I had to understand many new things.” She said at the time. “Being the person to carry the story of Eyimofe to people is something I am very proud of, so I had to do it right. I had to understand shots, how much and how little was expected of me during scenes. I am glad the directors and producers took all these into consideration and they even got Cynthia Egbijie and me a coach whom they flew in to take us through the story, how to bring it to life and the techniques needed.”
Presented by GDN Studios, directed by twin brothers, Arie and Chuko Esiri, and produced by Melissa Adeyemo, the film was funded entirely in Nigeria, shot on 16mm, and filmed across 48 locations in Lagos. Executive Producers include Maiden Alex Ibru, Toke Alex Ibru, Olorogun Oskar Ibru, Kayode Akindele, and Ifeoma Esiri.
Since its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival last year, Eyimofe has been selected for different international festivals, including Indie Lisboa International Film Festival in Portugal, BFI London Film Festival in the UK, Mostra Sao Paolo International Film Festival in Brazil, Cinecitta International Film Festival (CIFF) in the Netherlands, Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain, The Viennale in Austria, GRAMNet Film Series in Scotland and Sharjah Film Platform festival in UAE.
Other festivals include Vancouver International Film Festival in Canada, AFI Film Festival in the USA, Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece, New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland, Torino Film Festival in Italy, Hainan Island International Film Festival (HIFF) in China, and Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) in Egypt.