Film Across Generations and Continents

The year 2000 was kind of a fabulous year for film. At least as I remember it. I had all the time in the world and watched practically everything that came out and I could see in Ann Arbor that year. It was the year Christopher Nolan’s Memento blew everyone’s mind with it’s trippy innovative timeline and super intense acting, High Fidelity was the romantic comedy of the moment,  Kenneth Lonergan broke onto the indie film scene with You Can Count on Me and won at Sundance and peak Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? came out with a killer soundtrack. Yet, what I remember most about that year is a small Taiwanese film called Yi Yi (A One and a Two). Nothing particularly spectacular happens in this film and it’s almost 3 hours long. But I had never before felt so immersed in a film before. I had never before felt such a strong pull to not want to leave the world Edward Yang had created and wanted a film to keep going. Twenty years later it’s still one of the best films I have ever seen. 

To encounter a film directed and obviously influenced by Edward Yang twenty years later was delightful. Having it be directed by someone living on a completely different continent, who would have been 15 years old when this film came out put a huge smile on my face. The twin brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri place their film in Lagos, Nigeria and completely immerse the viewer in its environment that by the end of the film not only do you feel like you know these characters, but also this place, and this world. If Ebert was right, and film is an empathy machine, I think the best way to make full use of film as a medium is to watch films from and immerse yourself in places you have never seen before. If you have never seen a film from Nigeria, Eyimofe (This is My Desire) is a very good place to start!

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