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10 Questions With Leila Djansi ("Sinking Sands," "Ties That Bind")

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 14, 2011 1:08 PM
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And the beat goes on... Installment number 6 of the S&A "10 Questions With A Black Filmmaker" series... catch up with the first 5 if you need to: Barry Jenkins HERESeith Mann HEREVictoria Mahoney HERE, Rodney Evans HERE, and Ava DuVernay HERE.

Up next on the list of filmmakers who thankfully took time out of their busy schedules to engage in a bit of frivolity (although, not really) is 

Leila Djansi, the 

award winning Ghanaian filmmaker (now based in the US 

whose last feature film, Sinking Sands, won 3 trophies at the 2011 African Movie Academy Awards (was nominated for 9), 

and was endorsed by UNIFEM, Ghana, as a resource in its Say NO! to Violence campaign. Leila is 

currently prepping her next film for release, Ties That Bind, a multi-million dollar production co-starring Kimberly Elise

Ama K Abebrese and Nollywood's Omotola Ekeinde.

If you've been reading S&A for the last 6 or so months, you should be familiar, because we've written about her and her films a number of times, including Wendy's interview with her at Cannes earlier this year, which you can watch HERE.

Ties That Bind

 is expected to premiere at the National Theatre in Accra on Dec 30th; and I'm sure we'll be writing some more about it in 2012, as it travels.

In the meantime, get to know her a little more below, via her answers to my 10 randomly-selected questions:

1. If you could recommend 2 movies newly released in 2011 that everyone should see, they would be these (not including yours)…

That would be The Help and Mother and Child.

2. I own every single album (or should own every single album) by this musician…

Oh gosh!!! I'm not too much into music. I don't even have a favorite musician. :(. But, I do like Salvador.

3. I want my tombstone to read…

Hehehehehe, I came, I saw, I hope, I conquered!!

4. Earliest movie memory...

I think I was 6 years old and it was Clash of the Titans; the 1981 version. The Kraken gave me a fever for a week. My mum never made me watch movies again for a while.

5. If I weren't a filmmaker, I'd be this...

I'd be Nancy Drew!!!! I wanted to be an OBGYN and then a forensic scientist

6. Carnivore, herbivore or omnivore?

Omnivore who doesn't do red meat.

7. I’d kill to work with this actor (or these actors)…

I really don't have a hit list of actors but, Kate Winslet is someone I'd love to work with. It will be a challenge to see her embrace something I'll create.

8. The view outside my bedroom windows looks like this…

The withering roses on my patio. They're adorable in the spring though.

9. I do most of my movie watching: at the theater, at home on a TV screen, on my mobile device (PDA, iPad, etc)

At home on a TV screen!

10. I’m a director, but if I were to act, I’d love to be directed by this director.

Bernardo Bertolucci

That's all folks! THANKS Leila!

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  • Ebbe Bassey Manczuk | November 22, 2011 12:23 PMReply

    I have dealt with Leila Djansi on a professional and a personal level; she is anything but banal, boring and shallow. She is a very intelligent, introspective, personable, fair, kind, generous, sensitive, creative individual who takes her craft seriously! She is a excellent role model for young ladies especially my young African sisters who are NOT encouraged in their creative lives at all. What exactly about her few responses which probably don't even amount 500 words makes her come off as shallow? She's shallow because she doesn't listen to a lot of music? Or because she wanted to be an obgyn or forensic scientist? She's banal because she watched Clash of the Titans at 6 and the Kraken scared her? She's boring because she would love to work with Kate Winslet (an amazing actress by the way) or because she's addressed serious issues in her film such as slavery, child molestation, adoption, domestic violence? I think this was meant to be a very light hearted, on the spot, spit-it-out-quick interview. I knew the vein of the interview and didn't expect some earth shattering, life changing, heaven moving, deep into the earth responses! It was meant to be F.U.N.

    It is very easy to sit behind a computer screen and toss quick judgments about a person's character. U of I Alum, I would rather have read a constructive, helpful critique of the lady's work such as the Sinking Sands which you've stated you did not like but instead you came off as flippant, dismissive and judgemental.

  • U of I Alum | November 15, 2011 1:19 AMReply

    Micah, your words carry an authority and levelheadedness that I must respect and heed. Point well-taken. I'm done. Thanks for making me see the error in my logic, and doing so in a way that made your words clear and easy to accept. I hear you. I apologize. I accept your logic and thank you for the time and effort you took to set me straight. Sincerely.

  • Micah | November 15, 2011 12:44 AMReply

    @ U of I Alum

    Mark, I appreciate your desire to hold black filmmakers to a high standard and except them to excel. I do feel that you are taking way too much much from an extremely lighted hearted interview. This is why it may seem like your response is a poor reflection on you to many of us. If someone is asked light-hearted questions and gives light-hearted answers, that doesn't strike me as a character flaw. It definitely isn't enough to give me insight into that person's directorial abilities or deeper personality. I'd be more concern if it she were asked thought-provoking and hard hitting questions and she gave frivolous answers that truly addressed nothing. If someone asked you what your favorite color is in an interview and you said blue would that really be enough information for people to attack your filmmaking abilities and character?

  • Angela | November 15, 2011 12:30 AMReply

    U of I alum, you have issues. She's banal, she's shallow and boring therefore you won't watch her movies. That's your opinion. others dare to differ, because yes I have met her and heard her speak so I'm more informed that you are. But, since you must win, have it your way. Hopefully you do something apart from come online to spew hate and Tambay can ask you question too and you can share you omnipotent depth of knowledge with us shallow folks. Goodnight.

  • Angela | November 14, 2011 11:20 PMReply

    it seems the Leila haters have followed her to a civilized blog. you should have said so from the beginning that you know her and your comment comes from a biased view point. why not state your name please? I don't think filmmakers make movies expecting everyone to like it. Whether you will like her new film or not, others will like it and have liked it and have given it great blurbs like the one I read here on shadow and act from Rick Berman.
    you don't know Leila, that is why you think she is banal. you were asked the right question, what did you want her to say? she didn't say she doesn't LIKE music, she said she is not into music. There are people who don't get excited about music and, she thinks people should watch the help. that makes her shallow? was Viola Davis shallow to act in The Help? I've seen the help, not because its a great film, but because I see two black women in the spotlight and not taking off their clothes or being ghetto.
    if anything, you are the shallow one. Drawing conclusions about someone from a shallow point of view. I found her answers to have a lot of depth. especially what she wants written on her grave :I came, I saw, I hope I conquered". that's deep!! and wanting to be directed by Mr. Bertulucci. That is enough depth for me. try google and come back to say Leila Djansi is banal. she is the most outspoken African filmmaker going places.
    Tambay did not ask her deep questions. I'd have loved to know what she'll say to a studio head.

  • U of I Alum (Mark Glover) | November 14, 2011 11:36 PM

    Why not state my name? Mark--now, does that make a difference in any way? I still think she's shallow -- are are her defenders, it seems. Surely you have a daunting task before you: supporting black women anytime you see them refraining from taking off their clothes and being ghetto! Jeez! What I lowered bar you've set to receive your appreciation!Do you know Leila? How do you know she isn't indeed banal? Guess it doesn't matter -- as long as she isn't disrobing and popping her neck as you're most likely doing as you type-up your defense of her! Yeah! For black sisterhood! (Your argument in her defense is absurd, ill-informed, and thus more harmful than helpful!)

  • Vanessa | November 14, 2011 10:42 PMReply

    I liked her answers. I wish someone asked you those questions on the spot U OF I ALUM. Jeez.

    Much luck to Leila!

  • U of I Alum | November 15, 2011 12:18 AM

    Surprisingly, I would've recommended "The Help" too -- oh, and "Driving Ms. Daisy."
    And, I would've said I'm not into music either -- it's yucky! And, out of all the actresses and actors with whom I could possibly wish to work, I would, too, cite Kate Wenslet! Oh, and TV screen for me, too.

    And then, because I'm woman and African-American (that's part African), I would've expected folk to blindly defend my shallowness as well -- especially in the spirit of black sisterhood and black nationalism!

  • to u of i alum | November 14, 2011 7:51 PMReply

    what did you want her to say? the questions are light and don't need any dramatic answers so what exactly should she have said? go and read her other interviews and you'd get a better insight. there is no winning with some of you people.
    great job Leila. can't wait to watch your new film.

  • U of I Alum | November 14, 2011 9:07 PM

    Actually, she appears to be the "light" one.
    So tired of Americans pretending to be enamored with all things
    (and people African)! I didn't want her to say anything--just be herself,
    which she did--which I found banal. Boring. Shallow. And if all that
    translates into her work -- which it usually does with artists -- I don't
    think I'll like her new work (I didn't like "Sinking Sand" -- though its
    domestic violence subject matter renders it above criticism in some
    folk's eyes!)
    Or, perhaps you sincerely don't like music either -- or, you truly
    enjoyed "The Help." Please!

  • Kia | November 14, 2011 5:39 PMReply

    Interesting responses and although I was thrown off by the answers to Q1 minus Mother and Child, best of luck to Leila on her feature film. Keep em coming Tambay!

  • Cynthia | November 14, 2011 4:46 PMReply

    Great answers!

  • U of I Alum | November 14, 2011 5:14 PM

    Great answers? "I'm not too much into music. I don't even have a favorite musician..."
    --that and her other answers sucked!

    Based on these 10 questions, she sounds like nothing extraordinary -- don't think I'd get much out of her films. Ho Hum for her!

    But S & A, keep up the great work. Wonderful format and questions; unfortunately, you can't control the banality of the answers!

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