Morayo & Moyo Akandé
BFI London Film Festival 2017
When two young black enslaved sisters escape into the wilds of 18th century Scotland, they must use all of their courage and strength to survive, unite, and stay free.
On their journey they rediscover their spiritual and cultural connection to one another in pursuit of freedom through a foreign land set against an epic and elemental backdrop at a turbulent time in Scotland’s history.
Hey Morayo & Moyo, thanks for talking to tNC, how is everything going?
Morayo: Great, thanks, we're really excited about this month, 1745 is screening at the Glasgow City Chambers as part of Black History Month, which has never happened before, so its nice to see this important story is being included in the event.
Moyo: Yeah, it's been going well so far, and the past few months have been pretty busy. Our two screenings at BFI London Film Festival sold out. It's brilliant to see the audiences in England taking an interest in our story. We also found out on Day 1 of the festival that 1745 has been nominated for the BAFTA Scotland Best Short Film award. So we have been celebrating!
Congratulations on being selected for the BFI London Film Festival development programme, what does it mean for you to be part of the festival?
Morayo: I feel so happy to have been selected as its an amazing opportunity to learn from experienced and new filmmakers and it's been great meeting all the other participants. It's amazing that programmes like NETWORK@LFF exist, as they really nurture and support new talent.
You had your World Premiere too place at the Edinburgh Film Festival, what did it mean to you both to be able to screen 1745 in Scotland?
Moyo: We've been with the story from it's conception, so it's been a lengthy but incredible journey. To see this idea transform from script to screen, and have it's world premiere at EIFF is a huge achievement and a blessing. I feel so proud of my sister Morayo who wrote the film, it's the first time we have both collaborated together and it's been a wonderful experience working with her.
Getting a Jury Special Mention must have been amazing, what was the first thing that went through your mind when you found out?
Morayo: I felt so proud of our amazing cast and crew, because we managed to pull off something wonderful, and to be recognised was such an honour.
Moyo: They went above and beyond during production, so to be acknowledged for all our efforts is the best feeling in the world.
1745 will be screened at this years BFI LFF & Underwire Festival what has it been like for you to share this incredible story with film festival audiences?
Morayo: It has been wonderful to get everyones positive feedback, some people aren't aware of the history so a lot of them leave wanting to learn more, and that's brilliant because we want to keep the conversation going.
Has it surprised you to have gotten the reaction you've gotten for this film?
Moyo: We have been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming positive response about the story. The themes and subject matter that are explored in the film have definitely intrigued our audiences and have got them talking about this untold part of Scotland's history.
Tell me a little bit about 1745, how did the film come about?
Morayo: Well it all started with me wanting to write a period drama, set in Scotland. I wanted to focus on the stories about people of colour, I'd always see them in the background, but they were rarely given a voice.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
Morayo: I was inspired by advertisements for runaway slaves, I'd found in 18th century local Scottish newspapers.
Did you have any apprehensions about bringing this story to life?
Morayo: No, I felt it was important to not only share their stories, but to show their humanity. I wanted to create a story that explored the relationship between two women, who were sisters escaping slavery. Through this exploration it would show their empowerment.
What has been the most challenging part of writing this film been for you?
Morayo: The research because there were so much I didn't know about Scotland's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, but I worked with Professor Simon Newman, Dr Stephen Mullen, and Mr Nelson Mundell, a team of historians working on a project called 'Runaway Slaves in 18th century Britain' at the University of Glasgow.
Was it difficult to work both behind and in front of the camera on this project?
Morayo: No, it was great because as a writer I got to see the whole journey of the project from start to finish, which doesn't normally happen. When I was on set I was there as an actor, being in the moment, and I was working with a supportive cast and crew who I respect and trust. Having Moyo on set was amazing, as it's our first time working together.
'I hope people leave with a stronger understanding of what it would have been like to be enslaved.'
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Morayo: I've always had a passion for stories, I was book obsessed as a kid and then my love for films grew when I was in my early teens. I worked at Blockbuster and after watching so many movies, I wanted to create my own.
What was the first film you saw that inspired you to get into filmmaking?
Morayo: Fight Club, I love Chuck Palahniuk books, and when I watched the movie I was amazed because it was bold and unapologetic.
What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making this film?
Morayo: Communication is golden!
Moyo: What she said.
What five words best describe 1745?
Morayo: Empowering, Visceral...
Moyo: Thrilling, captivating and bold.
Do you have any advice for any fellow filmmakers?
Morayo: Dream big, set goals, and never give up.
Moyo: Nothing is impossible, don't be scared to fail and always believe in yourself.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
Morayo: I always feel as filmmakers we don't have control over of what people take away, but we can only hope that audiences can relate to our characters experience and connect with them. So I hope people leave with a stronger understanding of what it would have been like to be enslaved, and what it took to achieve freedom.