Nigerian-British actor and writer Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has discussed his directorial debut, Farming, in an interview with Accelerate TV.
Having worked on the movie for over 15 years, Adewale shared how the journey to writing and directing the film, saying it was a therapeutic one for him and a major part of discovering self-love.
Adewale, who was brought up by a white family at six weeks’ old, already experienced ‘farming’ from a tender age and so the movie is a reflection of the emotional, physical and mental trauma he went through being a black man in a foreign environment.
The drama centres on Enitan, a child whose Yorubá parents give him to a white working-class family in London in the 1960s, and who grows up to join a white skinhead gang led by a white supremacists.
Along with Adewale, the cast includes Nigeria’s Genevieve Nnaji plus Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), John Dagleish, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror) and Jaime Winstone.
According to him, the movie is a deep and personal one that gives him an identity as a filmmaker. “It speaks to the core of who I am as a human being,” he said.
To him, the term ‘farming’ was used by British social workers to describe the practice of Nigerians coming over to Britain in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, whereby they fostered or farmed the children off to working-class families.
He grew up hating his black skin and having a negative impression of who he really was because the society he lived in always reminded him he did not belong there.
Self-realisation began when his Nigerian parents took him to Nigeria at age eight and he started seeing things differently.
This practice of farming by Nigerian parents made him wonder if “what they were searching for was worth what they were giving up. Was it ambition, education, strata over love?” Adewale asked.
Adewale also uses the movie to honour those people who have experienced forms of farming in their life time.