How would it feel to move from your foster carer in Lincolnshire to your Nigerian birth mother in London? Shola Amoo, artist and filmmaker from London, explores the feelings behind such a change in in his new film. The Last Tree explores identity and culture and shines a light on a young person’s journey trying to find himself. We spoke to Shola about his motivations for the film.
Can you tell us a bit more about your most recent film The Last Tree?
In ‘The Last Tree’ we are telling the story of a young boy, called Femi, who is of Nigerian descent and fostered by a white parent in Lincolnshire. Our story picks up when his biological Nigerian mum takes him back to live with her in South London and he has to work out his new identity in a new space. Femi’s experience of foster care had been positive. London proves more difficult…
Why have you decided to talk about foster care in the film?
Femi’s story is semi-autobiographical. I myself was fostered for a few years before I moved back with my family. It is an experience many British Nigerians went through, particularly those who lived with white foster carers. I also spoke to other British Nigerians who grew up in similar circumstances to mine. For the film, I mixed all our stories together and created a new narrative.
My experience of foster care was a pleasant one; and so is Femi’s in the film but I know from my research that others who were fostered found themselves in circumstances that were less than favourable.
The exploration of identity plays an important role in the film. What can people expect from The Last Tree?
The narrative of the film is an exploration of identities across different timeframes and landscapes. Throughout the film we are following Femi through crucial periods of his life. He is trying to work out his complex history to understand who he is and where he fits in. Femi’s journey takes the audience to three places: Lincolnshire, London and Lagos. Each place challenges and informs his identity. To go forward in his life, Femi needs to address the past and reconcile the various elements of his identity. This is an important message for audiences to grapple with. Besides exploring identity, the film is also about subverting stereotypes and the concept of not judging a book by its cover.
Where can people see the film?
After our world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January, The Last Tree is now being released nationwide across the UK by Picturehouse Entertainment from 27 Sep.
photos: Courtesy of Picturehouse Entertainment