London born writer, director AND cinematographer Cecile Emeke, the woman behind web docu-series Strolling, and web series Akee and Saltfish, has been my favourite documentary film director before I even knew she was a documentary film director, and to be honest, before I even knew what she looked like! About two years ago, I was on YouTube and stumbled upon this amazing video with these two girls, who were of French nationality from birth, but African decent, and they were speaking about their experiences living in France and the challenges they face. I immediately thought about my cousins, who share their experience, but I never once thought about how they would be treated in a predominantly white, and historically racist country until I saw this documentary. I immediately binge watched all the episodes from this series and found out so much about the African diaspora in places like Belgium, Italy, Barcelona, America, and even Jamaica. I love Cecile’s approach to her documentaries because she probes on topics that you would never even know exist among your own people, and it’s so intriguing to learn about their experiences, regardless of where in the world they reside. What captivates me most about her style of film making is the cinematography and the style of interview. It’s as if direct to camera interviews and vox pop had a baby, mixed with a bit of “I’ve really gotten to know this person and form a genuine bond with them so they feel comfortable enough to open up to me”, if that even makes sense. All her subjects are so comfortable to speak about anything, and they’re highly intelligent, so they have a lot of really interesting things to say. I love the way she uses the landscape of whichever city she’s in. They’re beautifully shot and act as really beautiful backdrops for the interviews.
Cecile isn’t only a documentary filmmaker, recently while binge watching my new favourite show “Insecure”, I saw her name under the director title for one of the episodes and I immediately said “NOW THIS EPISODE MAKES SENSE”. While the difference in directing style was not jarringly different, because obviously it’s a television show with a certain look, and for continuity’s sake….I definitely saw her creative stamp on it. The joy I felt when I saw her name, you would swear I was a proud aunty cheering on for my high achieving niece.
Cecile actually inspired me to start “Small Lime”, a documentary series along the same lines of her “Strolling” series, but obviously focused on youth opinions in Trinidad and Tobago because not often do you get to hear the opinions of young people, at least not documented on a visual format. The most you see is people sharing text posts or memes via Facebook or Twitter. I still have to work out the logistics of how often I would like to release a new episode and what route I would like to take with it, but for now, I’m largely inspired by Cecile and the work she does and I really hope she continues down the wonderful path she’s going, giving young black people an outlet to express themselves. She’s awesome. She bae fr.