www.noocultures.info – “Eyimofe – This is my Desire” (2020), a 116-minute drama film directed and produced by Esiri Chuko and Esiri Arie from Nigeria. In official competition, feature film category at FESPACO 2021, Eyimofe is a two in one debut film, narrating more or less similar storylines of two distinct characters struggling to find their way out of chronic poverty in Nigeria.
Mofe, an electrical engineer, living with his sister Precious and her two children in Lagos, Nigeria, and Rosa, a hairdresser and bartender living with her teen pregnant sister Grace in the same neighborhood.
Both portrayed as the sole breadwinners of the family, Mofe and Rosa do everything they can to take care of their loved ones, but capitalism keeps winning. What they earn from their multiple jobs is never enough to cover all the expenses, even the basic ones like rent, and the medical bills.
In the quest to improve the quality of their lives, Mofe chooses Spain as his dream destination and Rosa chooses Italy. The film follows the journey to reaching these two destinations depicting all the sacrifices, obstacles, and support Rosa and Mofe experience.
Mofe is so great at rewiring fuses and fixing all electrical malfunctional that the factory he works in feels less pressured to find a solution to fix their broken-down machines. Unfortunately, a malfunctional generator at his home would lead to a tragic accident that would significantly affect his mental health, ownership of property, employment, and his immigration dream.
The film illustrates the concept of intersectionality through a series of hardships that the two protagonists go through. Mofe’s socio-economic status would disqualify him at the get-go of applying for a visa through an official process, and he would opt to get himself a forged passport with a different name : Sanchez. Rosa and Grace would also opt for this fraudulent procedure despite the high cost that was involved. In a realistic way, the film depicts how one’s social class determines all other aspects of life.
The hardships that Mofe and Rosa go through are so relatable to any person in the same socioeconomic class. Rosa meets with an American man who gives her a taste of a good life but her financial status get in a way of the love affair as her cry for help gets interpreted as opportunism.
The chosen cinematographic language used to recount the protagonists’ struggle somehow makes all the tragic events digestible. Through beautiful scenery, busy streets of Nigeria, constant change of hairstyles and fashionable outfits, colorful costumes, cozy traditional music soundtrack, the film directors invited in positivity.
Moreover, the filmmakers comparatively bring in the concept of ubuntu and extreme individualist behavior by involving antagonist characters that add to the suffering of the two leading characters, and others that make life easier for them.
Released on October 11, 2020, Eyimofe – This is my Desire has been embraced on the international level and been nominated in several international film festival. In August 2021, it won the best Feature Film Narrative at the Blackstar Film Festival.
Fabiola Uwera Rutamu (Rwanda) ©AFCC / NO’O CULTURES
Article written for the AFCC / NO’O CULTURES / FESPACO 2021 Workshop.
Training workshop in film criticism and content production on African cinemas, organized on the occasion of the 27th edition of FESPACO by the African Federation of Cinematographic Critics (AFCC) in collaboration with the NO’O CULTURES Program