(photo: Mohamed Dione and Marie Zoumanigui in ‘Maffe Tiga’)
The African Movie Academy Awards take place tonight in Lagos. First time-nominee Mohamed Dione, a LA-NY based director and actor, with his first film Maffe Tiga is short-listed in the best short film category.
Dione is a working actor with roles in the likes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Notorious as well as a feature in Andrew Dosunmu’s film Restless City
The Guinean-Senegalese filmmaker and actor will be live -tweeting for AfriPOP! from the awards ceremony. He spoke to us, literally while on his way Lagos, about the state of African film and his own goals with the success of the film. Get to know this up-and-coming film-maker Mohamed Dione and watch out for his tweets via AfriPOP! for the show tonight!
How does it feel to be nominated?
I found out i was nominated on the night they announced the nominations in Gambia. I was in LA at home writing and I got a Skype call from a friend who was at the event . When he delivered the news, I was so excited that I jumped out of my desk chair and started to Ndombolo dance and Azonto. It’s the first film I’ve ever written and directed. For it to be nominated and recognized by anyone means everything to me.
What does it feel like going to your first awards show of this caliber?
It feels absolutely great! Getting flown out to Lagos, Nigeria to be among some the best African filmmakers in the world. It’s definitely the place to be, to see old friends and make new ones. One door leads to another. Dreams come true.
Have you seen the short films of your fellow nominees? Thoughts?
I haven’t seen any of the other nominated short films yet but I’ve heard great things. I look forward to seeing the films and meeting my fellow filmmakers.
Tell us a little about what Maffe Tiga is about?
Maffe Tiga (Peanut butter stew) is a romantic dramedy about a young African woman who finds that love is the true connection between her heritage and her future. After struggling to make ends meet and relationship trouble, an unexpected letter from her grandmother reveals that generations of women in her family have faced similar challenges. Rather than giving up they pass down a secret that draws them closer to each other and to their dreams. Oumou must decide if she will draw on the wisdom of her family or try to figure life out on her own.
FYI: “Maffe Tiga” (Peanut Butter stew) is a popular west African dish served with rice. Many people believe this dish is very powerful…
What went into making it?
It took everything to make “Maffe Tiga”. From writing several drafts, getting locations, casting, set design, assembling a crew of film students, raising funds for pre and post production, renting equipment… We shot in the film in 3 consecutive days. We raised the majority of the budget on kickstarter.com with the help of friends and family. I used some of my own funds too when that money ran out. My partner Stephanie Williams and I were determined to get our production company (Caramel Cappuccino Films) first film complete no matter what it took. With support from friends, family, and the online community, we were able to do just that. It’s been a great learning experience.
What are your plans for the film now?
To submit it to as many film festivals as possible to get more people to see the film and attract possible investors. I plan to do some screenings in areas with large African communities. I’m currently developing it into a feature film and looking for investors to help fund it. I also would like to do some screenings and to show the film in my native country Guinea-Conakry to inspire young people and show them the power of cinema.
In your opinion, what is the state of African film and cinema now?
There are a lot of great things happening with African film and cinema right now. Great films like Andrew Dosunmu’s film Restless City (which I am featured in) challenge peoples perception of what African cinema is. Yes, we too can make high quality art films with mesmerizing cinematography. We can get recognized at film festivals and it can open doors for us to do more great projects. There are lots of great films and filmmakers with stories to tell. We just have to support each other and watch each others films.
In what direction would you like to see the industry go?
I would like to see more great films made and financing coming from African nations’ culture and tourism funds. It could be a great way to boost our economies. I would also like to see an African film studio where we can go to get support to develop films every step of the way. From script to screen. That would be great. Tyler perry has shown us that this is possible.
What does being nominated for AMAA do for you, the film and your production company?
Being nominated for AMAA tells me that I made the right choice by pursuing my dreams of acting and filmmaking and to keep going. Nominations like this tells the world who you are and what you are doing. It inspires people to check out your film’s trailer and hopefully your film too. It helps them discover your work and puts them on the path to support your future projects and your career. AMAA gives you the great exposure you need to take things to the next level. Being the first film produced by my production company, I hope it facilitates the production of our future projects.
What’s next for yourself?
Since I’m a professional actor I’m auditioning in Los Angeles and New York for tv, film and theater and taking offers for new projects. I hope to work on a film in Europe and Africa this year. I have some projects coming out this year like Restless Cityin theaters April 27th. I also guest starred in an episode of Robert Deniro’s new CBS TV drama NYC 22 which should air soon so look out for that. When I’m not acting I’m writing projects and traveling. So expect some more projects coming from me soon!
Send a message on the film’s Facebook page to find out how you can see the film.
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