In America Movie: Filmmakers Documentary
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In America Movie: Filmmakers Documentary



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my name is shadi George and it all began the day I arrived in America shadows a young woman who is Nigerian and she comes to America with you know with dreams like everyone who migrates into the country I've been thinking about your situation and what we can do because if you think about it you could have a really great career here in this country there anything i can do i need to become a legal anywhere first i know that but what do you have to do to become legal frankly from what everyone says marry an American citizen she's here looking at the new world trying to learn and she meets this African American go where'd you learn her do all that what were you studying nursing or something no medicine I was a medical school Americans errands enlightened enough about Africa and we haven't taken enough in shitty to learn about one another i received a myspace message from from Rama and the director talking about a movie that I wanted to do you know I read the script it was very good when shadi who is my niece comes to America my character has a real chance to actually do something good meaning by that helping the family and helping the families by helping Denise and by helping the nice he'll help himself everyone has a story about immigration offices I think there's a lot of african pride in the skin the film and a lot of nigerian party my decision to come to the United States and learn from making created a storm when I told my father actually he said film hello buddy what is he about what are you going to be doing to making films initially I lied to him excuse me hi I'm sorry to disturb you um did you just move on to Mandela homes yes you look there no but I was delivering food the other night and I saw you and some gentleman carrying some baggage into the apartments yeah and because I haven't seen you around I figured that you know maybe you were new around here soul sisters is the story of friendship between two young women one of them is Nigerian immigrants and the other one is an african-american it's about friendship it's about um two young ladies who find friendship Marlene davalos she plays the role of the Nigerian character shadi George she's an upcoming after she started out in Boston she has a passion to be to be an actor and she she gave everything to hit and and you can see it on the screen she learns to talk like a Nigerian and act like a nigerian girl none of them busy maybe it's time for you to get married aunty Mary worries about that all the time she needs better things to worry about I'll get you some water she comes to America with you know with dreams like everyone who migrates into the country and she wants to go to finish school and just pursue a career and just be successful she is a medical student in Nigeria but she lives a she leaves the school there are four years into the into our education because she has been trying to come to the United States even before she got into the school so she thought things will be better by coming out here I think she always knew that she was strong but realizing that you know she's gonna make it rather it's in America or in Nigeria so I think you know that that that was what was behind it so she's here looking at the new were trying to learn and she meets this African American go whoo how problem is she's trying to hold together the integrity of her family that's how I we give me the money yet no he said Oh get to me next week to anyone give it to you this isn't slow business is always slow this is is slow all right I worked there I would know it she works with the father and she lives with the mother in a way to be able to connect both of them and with the hope of really bringing them back together again well maybe you need to start trusting him more the way he trusts me don't even start that again Sonia Schott a meat just in passing one was going to the library when was coming out and Sonia initiated the you know conversation because she's had seen shadi moving in with her uncle what moving in when she wouldnt without him because they live in the same building where are you from I am I Julian Nigeria oh wow I love nigeria I think it's such a beautiful country thank you everyone to get together and hang out or agreed show on man that is nice debut here Sonja doesn't really know about other cultures a lot she knows some but a lot of them are just you know myths so I think meeting shot shot I taught her a lot about know Africa and I think she just there they help each other in a lot of ways you know and a lot of their strengths and their weaknesses and they just became really good friends you know you meet a girl in high school her name is Anna Oh Anna do you know her she was from Africa Sonia do not tell me you ask silly questions like that like what questions as of Africa is a village where everyone knows when a mother no Anna was a Nigerian there are about 130 million people in Nigeria oh maybe I do that maybe not I think they realized that they weren't as different as they thought and you know being African and african-american you know Sonya realize you know that just being african-americans not so different from an African and shoddy you know saw the same so I think that you know they learned a lot in their friendship I've never dated an African man well you've not miss much I'll tell me more they heard what they are controlling they make noise about sex and something you want to marry more than one life what about african-american men Oh same thing you know it looks like there's pretty much gonna be a challenge no matter where you go with these guys huh I saw in soul sisters that these two girls are sisters they've been torn apart by centuries of bitter history and they're looking at one another that we are not blood related so how are we related but we know we are related you know your father is not my father but we are related in the poor something beyond the blood something that goes deeper than the blood in the soul we are sisters it's not a character that happy could is not doing what it wants to be it almost as if he's in prison you know in America is not a great guy but unfortunately it's the situation it's society that forces him to act the way he died hello sure they just called this doctor at the airport what I'm just waiting for a phone call do the questioning her about the visa the visa she's not tell them she's coming for the conference she did but they say she should have been in a group not alone you know they give them this visceral said group I play the character of time we came here to to become somebody better than then I was in in Nigeria but unfortunately because of the immigration problems he ended up doing only small jobs and was never able to do what he was said to do was never able to actually help these people back in the country you know honestly I don't know I have my own issues with the immigration I cannot put my head out right now his pride would an alarm to go back to Nigeria empty-handed so so yeah so he was forced to stay here and struggle here and ended up being by myself not married if she calls again tell her to stick the story the conference is the real they can check on that if she insists coming for the conference the mat let alone when shadi who is my niece comes to America my character has a real chance to actually do something good this is so beautiful this is our buster and driving a cab and and yeah so of course it's not a character that's happy because he's not doing what he wants to be it's almost as if he's in prison you know in America so frustration comes comes through and down Kenya his that is not is not a great guy but unfortunately it's the situation it's society that forces him to act the way he does especially against his own niece in that case who is shoddy that young girl that came from from Nigeria Charlie's relationship with her uncle she he's not her blood uncle but they she grew up knowing him he's her uncle cuz he was a close family friend so when she comes to America her parents trusts him you know with their daughter and she moves in with him you know under the impression that you know he's gonna look after her you know and just be a supportive uncle how much you have to give um me photos ah come on Sam that's way below minimum wage through government's minimum wage this is under the table I'm taking a risk here let me take it or leave it if the government comes here who they're gonna take I'm the one taking the risk that's what I have you know that's not fair you know that nothing is going mine when does she start when she came to America she had this false hope almost like she thought that it was this magical land you know and she wasn't aware of how things are hard you know and how it's just you know sometimes no matter how hard you work some things are just you know extremely hard so I think she wasn't prepared for the struggle here what about the visa is it still good my visa expires in one month from now it wasn't too hard so you know kind of relate because some of the things she's been through you know I went through so some of it you know it was from my personal experience some of it would know things that friends have gone through and so I think you know that kind of helped I guess she can you hear me taking your hammie he would be okay no you do look my boy time is gonna give me a hand shani you saved that man's life where did you learn how to do all that in school like what were you studying nursing or something no medicine I was a medical school you were in medical school are you kidding no I attended for four years before I came here Wow their friendship is what's helped them to to be able to have a better understanding of their different situations and and of their lives in general I've been thinking about your situation and what we can do because if you think about it you could have a really great career here in this country there's where a threat you think i can do i need to become a legal immigrant first i know that but what do you have to do to become legal frankly from what everyone says marry an American citizen I'm Curtis sudden yeah can I get to address you guys along with Chad Ian Curtis they were very different but I think shadi was looking for love and you know and from hearing what other people see no from taking kind of advice from other people she thought you know that probably was the best decision at the time to you know Mary Curtis you know to get stabilized the only black guy and the staff so they feel free to do as they like why not we put them to your boss birds are the same feather you know he once said that there must have been a mistake at HR somewhere that they wouldn't invite me he sent that to you not those exact words but all you gotta do is reading between the lines he said that they never hired a black person before maybe you should let them know that you can take legal actions I don't think we take the chance to understand the differences you know in different cultures you know because it's a biz the language barrier you know and that's first and then just you know just our different views are different you know ethics you know some things you know that might be important to an African you know a Nigerian would not might not be as important know when I'm one party to african-american and vice versa so I think you know that is something you know that's good that's big I wrote a little rule of some some for my wife it's a little poem that I call that having a gift and it goes a little bit like this a good woman's love a soul lifting treasure comes only in a blue moon shot' ape my heart is glad whenever I dwell upon your beauty and your grace how I wish time freezes whenever I'm with you whenever I speak to you and whenever your voice sings to my ears thank you i received a myspace message from from Rama the director talking about a movie or needs to do in boston you know I at the time I wasn't seeing a lot of those messages it has been two months still no job one would think that the moment you reach America everything would be at your fingertips after my high school I decided to come to the United States to learn filmmaking it was that was when I got bitten by the bug the reflections that I I had growing up was most of the films that I watched as a little boy where there were all cinematic productions funded sometimes funded by a Hollywood because at that time the economy was very good but the image is actually what what they were presenting were informed some of them were informed by what Hollywood expected them to tell so in that way the image that I had was not was not something that made me feel comfortable like I remember dreaming whenever I watched movies at time movie actors same to me like gods in in some faraway land that you could never reach you just imagine and but for Africans it's it's it's totally different i received a myspace message from from Ramel the director talking about a movie that i wanted to do in boston you know at the time I was receiving a lot of those messages and I'm like okay just just send me something you know so I know before I say no so I know what I'm saying no to she sent the script you know I read this crib after it was very good at least it was extremely current as far as the situation here in America is concerned and to have someone doing a movie about immigration and yeah it was pretty well written and that's why i said okay why not let's let's just go for it making soul sisters has been a difficult journey when i started after writing the screenplay I was looking for money looking for actors at the same time but first getting money was very difficult because he was it was the first time that I will be making a movie and even though he was my first I didn't just want it to make it as say okay let me just do something and let it be out there and then when I move on to the next one I'll be learning at times I prefer to to actually take a look at the material because what might not bring a lot of money for the agent or the manager might be something extremely fulfilling for me to do so so that's why I always encourage people to just send me the material if I like it I'll do it whether there is money are not in the game going down the street want to drop me nothing service I got some money to pay a pal I respectively driver for free I am not in service now what the are you doing here you can loser never on service what do you want from me you crazy junkie and if you were taking passengers then bounce that's another one of becoming yeah keep moving well I guess because of my involvement already you know accepting to do it and I wanted to to do it as best as possible you know meaning by that having having something to say on how some of the things were going to be done and and yeah and then that that's how I think in many occasion you know mine put meant something you know not just as an actor but but also as well as a producer when I wrote the screenplay I didn't want to pretend that that I knew how every one of them show should be especially the african-american characters home is all that is in your mind you don't even think of putting things right i faltered on fisheries would you have done if I didn't tell you is that we seriously have to put up her can we just get out of here please no sorry who the hell does that guy think he is come on Sonya let's go coming from Nigeria growing up in Nigeria you know I didn't know how Anna the way an african-american will see react to a situation and all that but over the years that I've been living here I've been learning but still those years I I couldn't pretend that those years where I know for me to say this is how an african-american woman will react to this specific situation the way I wrote the screenplay I tried very hard to make everything together but I get when I gave it to them even before production at all I gave it to the actors and I told them whatever you think you want to change in it let me know and we will work it out with if I have any objection we will debate it and whoever wins that's what goes into it if I agree it straight away yes we go so what are you gonna do I mean you can't let him take advantage of you like that I do not know I hear things from people but I have got to figure out what is real I made the changes many of them that I agreed with and I learn from those suggestions because one of the things is also that the different experiences that we we've been having the strength that the importance that we attach two different things of course I want to be learning from one to another but I wanted soul sisters to be very good enough to be true technically to the story that I wanted to tell and so I was really looking for people who knew what they were doing I had to burn money to start and it was so it was when I started and camera was rolling selecting the the crew also he was a he was a long journey cuz i was looking for people who actually cookie could capture my vision the vision at the beginning was that something we could do like in about three months we didn't have the budget to shoot straight so the plan was to shoot on weekends friday saturday sunday because we don't shoot every day in Boston like in LA that helped it just once in a while we we were pressed to film in some places with our permits and within how we were there was no time to run back and forth to work out the problem so we had to try our best and see if we could get what we what we wanted and we were able to do some guerrilla filmmaking at that time I was blessed the people that I found very very good individuals very good professionals so they all loved the story so everything became not just about the money but about yes we would like to tell this story with you you know thank God we pull through i was born in nigeria in or your town or your state in nigeria and my background actually influenced the way I look at the world my decision to come to the United States and learn from making created a storm when I told my father actually he said film hello buddy what is he about what are you going to be doing to making films initially I lied to him because at that time to get a visa from Nigeria to come to the years was very very difficult so I told him that I I was put in filmmaking on my visa application so they could give me the visa because if you say you're going for accounting the Embassy will tell you you have a lot of counting cars insane idea why would you be going to the United States to do it so I said I have to give them something that we don't have and we don't have any filmmaking use my father was a he was a film lover which was one of the things I was eventually able to use to sell the idea to him I was telling that you know it's because the way Africans have been shown on film has not been good that's one and the the remuneration from it also has not been impressive but it's it's something that can change its not going to be like this and some you know meet some some of us are after do it i was born in nigeria in or your town or your state in nigeria my family was upper class at around the time that i was born but things changed the fortune of the family changed during the transition from one administration to another because that's one of the problems the nigerian facing the military regimes my background actually influenced the way I look at the world the experiences that that defined not to say defined in a specific way but that defining in all different aspects of African Americans and the experiences that define Africans in all the different aspects in today's world they've been very similar and so the the African Americans and African immigrants are still closely connected than up here on the surface you can leave your country needed to come in metal and someone else's problems you came because you wanted to find the solution to your own we may have come in on different ships but we are in the same boat an issue in them in soul sisters is the relationship between Africans immigrants here and african-americans but I met a group the group of African Americans that I met when I came they were very welcoming they treated me like like they're brothers sisters even their own son hi ty wait hey sharde sorry about the recent events of past days thank you sorry never talk to me wonder if there might be something we can do to help at this point it was then that I started learning how to the process of making films and a lot of things that I was also encountering the lady who actually introduced me to the filmmaking community in Boston I name is Deborah Sharif her husband has another organization called afro optimism that he started to be able to educate Americans in general about Africa he believed that Americans errands enlightened about enough about Africa so the information I was getting from that together with my developing skills in filmmaking led to the writing of soul sisters and what surfaced again and again was the fact that the only root of the problem that we have was misinformation that we haven't taken enough initiative to learn about one another that by the time you actually learn about one another you real you realize that the tension will not exist anymore I told you that you're racist I'm not taking it no more what do you want me to just sit there let them screw up my life I don't know what anyone to screw your life but you do not want to screw your life either you do not have to keep holding on to rights to hold yourself back you have got to rise above it you talking about i'm using racism as an excuse I didn't mean how give me huh tell me I am NOT saying that no one is discriminating against your coaches but you can ignore it and just go on and just be the best that you could be shadi tells Curtis you know that we're all the same you know our skins the same you know no matter we know what part of the country from the you know world we come from so I think that was important so you know put that out there that you know being African and african-american is not really you know that different because we're all you know before we speak you know we look the same so I think that was important for her you know let him know the experiences of many African immigrants that i have seen trying to get to permanent residence in this country especially women things are not looking good the problem isn't so much a divorce but but i am not divorced yet you don't have a husband either I mean you know a husband to ascertain your marriage studies in the fact that this comes right after you got you got married and you filed for a change of status I mean it's my make the immigration official suspicious they're really touched me and I wanted to tell that story so the whole thing came together and I decided to put all this story together and make it into a feature all I can do is try but couldn't you want the green cards it's just a hottie like at this point but sure they only hope I have left working with Herman was really nice because he was very helpful he helped me with the culture you just to learn how you know the Nigerian culture and how like for certain with certain scenes you know the being graceful and just you know how a Nigerian would carry themselves so it he helped a lot and he was really patient I used to watch a lot of Nigerian movies but I really you know when i'm a little bit harder just to kind of see the lifestyle you know because i'm not nigerian so how was your first day yeah she had fun well good that's what we do here it's fun sure he knows how to cook must the food they have the same kind of okay i'm haitian and I've been acting since I was young but our models in college I really decided you know to you know change my major and go into acting because it's my passion it's what I love to do so how did you visit but your uncle go okay i think the pan-african film festival has been very great and being able to bring it all of us together from all parts of the world and we're able to see what we are doing and inspire one another from eight yes hello what's up mister T you're not coming what I didn't see your money is that reaching ok Jesus Christ sorry sorry I'd be there in 20 minutes the screenings that we've we've had so far the response from the from the audience has been inspiring we screen it at Boston when we completed it just for the Boston City for them to see what we've been doing we're screening at the time and people responded very well but it's generating interest and in being able to reach out and learn about the other side which is what I think has been the main problem which is my goal for us to be able to learn that we all have we have history and our present is determined by our history and influences how we perceive our world in general telling a telling a story I find story telling us very very important to life in general which is why I am I'm happy and excited to be a storyteller through film I feel stories our lives in general are dictated by stories you know what even with this entire situation even though it leaves me torn I always ask myself my African or or am i african american but one good thing that has none of this is the fact that it makes you want to learn more about Africa you know become more educated is that there's a dance between the audience and the storyteller that if it's well synchronized everything looks beautiful and we all learn and grow from it when people see this movie they are able to realize that problem that their history the means information in our history has gone to the way we see ourselves so that is that is a that is inspiring in what I've been saying I've been looking forward to being at the pan-african film festival since the time we started production and i think it's it's a great great platform for african movies I've been expecting something big but I even what I got was even bigger than and what I expected and it brought everybody together that's that's something I see and by doing that every year bringing people but by which the relationship continues and it's just amazing it was Jimmy Jimmy John Louie that first told me about it when we start a production that he said you have to get it to the pan african film festival and at that time he told me said you know this he was telling me about individuals in nigeria that are in the film industry that i didn't know when I applied for the pan-african fifa's because I was excited to bring it out here and especially because it's happening in the Black History Month I've been thinking of taking saw sisters to an idea though I've been talking to some people but there is one important figure in in the Nigerian film industry which was peace Anya that runs the AMA award the two times that I've been to an idea I was never able to get in touch with her and and here she was here and we met finally and she was able to see my movie and now saying okay yeah we'll be in touch I think the pan-african film festivals been very great and being able to bring all of us together from all parts of the world and we're able to see what we are doing and inspire one another from it and be able to you it makes you it takes you from feeling alone because even I met a lot of Nigerian filmmakers here that I didn't know exist you know from different parts of the country and its am poz you you know it makes you feel like you're not alone and the same with you know the African American filmmakers people were trying to tell these stories and everyone offers we are coming together and say yeah we are independent filmmakers people of color and we want to tell our own story and we want so it's it's been great and I'm really grateful you know for for this platform shooting in Nigeria is something that I've been dreaming really dreaming to do but I have to take into consideration a lot of elements that will have to come together but I am hoping to to shooting idea not to give it up the Niger anger she makes a decision towards the inning last second to the last seen the african-american disagrees with the decision but when they discuss it back and forth the development in their character over the course of the story is revealed right there you I'm a Haitian playing a Nigerian but i have to say that I've plain Nigerian so many times now let me see I've played a Nigerian on the shield tears of the sun push Willie's fat girls soul sisters I shot a movie in Nigeria where I also played Nigerian so I think I've plane I joined a lot to to almost deserve a Nigerian Passport at this point he brought the these a huge background of having walking all sorts of production from Hollywood to independence so he brought that to the table and it was very very helpful I came to this country full of dreams fifteen years ago and now nothing but complete failure this was my only chance to have someone to do better screw it it doesn't bother me to to be to be mistaken not to be taken for Nigerian yeah it's all for the for the better if anything I enjoy playing Nigerian but I also enjoy taking part of of the growth of the Nigerian film industry I think there's a lot of african pride in in the film and a lot of Nigerian pride because you know shot is really proud to be Nigerian and she carries herself with that grace I think it tells the story of like why people come here sometimes you know it might be best for an individual to go back you know willingly and because they love their country sorry about your mother she was proud to be Nigerian you know and and she embraced our country and even you know everything that she did she still kept her culture you know she kept you know or know her roots and she didn't compromise look since miss George has been in this country she's been a good conduct in been productive useful to society these are values that we hold an esteem in his country if Miss George doesn't deserve residency I don't know who does thank you Miss George everything more to say even though she knew she was strong I think she realized that she's stronger than she ever thought and you know and that I think her love for her country just you know she realized you know that much more how much know she loved her country and you know how proud she was of her country I left my country not to come and break the laws but I was looking for a place so much of my life I think she knew that you know it wasn't a road journey here was gonna be easy and she was ready for that we are gathered here today in support of Sharda George who was seeking residency in this country however not just for shorting but for all immigrants who are seeking residency in this country not to give it up the agenda she makes a decision towards the end last second to the last scene and the african-american she disagrees with the decision but when they discuss it back and forth the the development in their character over the course of the story is revealed right there I just do not want to cause you any trouble surely you're not causing us any trouble I could make things easy and one thing that I also like in that scene is the fact that I always tell people that we as Africans where we come here we love Africa it's you know Africa is our land in past couple days all you've been doing is worrying and you know it's marketing here there's a proverb in Nigeria that says whatever you own doesn't really have much value to you that's what you don't have that tends to add value and I think even though we are Africans we love Africa we we we know about Africa and all that but that there's a there's something that when we come here we learn from African Americans about Africa I think I should go back to Nigeria what well sorry talking about I think it would be better for everyone no surely you can't give up we can do this we can find something to do about this our lawyer he says that we have options that we can appeal so that way you don't have to go back I'm sorry but I think I should go back the gentleman that had said that started the organization that I told you about today after all Optimus optimism organization when he told me the first time he went to Africa he's a Muslim so he said the first day has he landed in Africa he worshipped the Islamic way which is put in your head to the ground and you know like kissing the ground metaphorically and I said I told him I said the first day I came to America I did that so I put that in the in the story but in this last sane I reveal that thing that Africans come to learn that you I can do many things people are there they are doing something and besides I have lived there for 24 years and I have never guessed that I feel are strengthened by this idea of being able to use film to let people see who they are the strength they have within themselves what they can in deal what they can do and for that to be able to connect it with the audience and and let them see the story and and see the way it is you know it's it's a big challenge that even it shudders my heart again and again I hope for you to be distributed as widely as possible not only even here but in Africa also we thought we are talking with uh with discussing with Nigeria right now to be able to release the movie in Nigeria as well and then some other African countries will do all that's in our power to keep her here she's part of the family now I know you feel but the law is what it is he you can't change it her age precludes her from the adoption option I mean that's just it she's still young she still has their education to completing all that Hey look I'm doing my best all right but the lawmakers just don't see what you see we have our hands an individual here this friend lady needs to remain in this country so what are you gonna do to help us I think it's a wonderful project I think it says a lot about that I'm Nigerian culture I think it says a lot just about immigration and the system and you know what it is when one does come to America the process that it takes and you know I think it's something to be proud of you know and the ending might think it's awesome you know I think you know Nigerians will be proud of the film you know and it's something to see I hope many people will have a chance to see it to see the movie I hope it will bring a bit of awareness in both countries in Nigeria and in America I hope it will it'll help Americans understand Nigerians better and vice versa I think soul sisters shows that you know the grass is not always greener you know that sometimes you know where you are you think you know something else better but you know even you're fine where you are you know and it's one thing it's but it's good to find out you know that it's not green ecause that way you you're more content so I think you know that showed a little bit of that hopefully things will change as well because that subject of immigration is is a very difficult one for not just for for for for foreigners but also for Akane's you know we have to find better ways to deal with that thank you for everything take care yourself sweetie i will thank you timing i am happy to see soul sisters representing that the way we tell the story and the the information in the story and I I think they they come together very very well on and I'm very proud of it panasonic is the official camera of the Africa channel you

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