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Rotterdam - Nigerian Producer Ikechukwu Omenaihe's 'In Silence And In Tears' (Doomed Outcasts)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 22, 2013 3:34 PM
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Youma Diakite

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has unveiled the 74 young film producers who will take part in the 13th edition of Rotterdam Lab, part of CineMart.

Participants at this year’s edition of CineMart’s successful event for emerging producers have been nominated by the 29 Rotterdam Lab partner organisations.

Participants will have the opportunity to take part in and observe panel discussion on topics such as development, financing, post-production and VOD, which will see the participants given information by industry experts on how to present their project and to build up an international network.

On the list of 74 is Nigerian producer by Ikechukwu Omenaihe, and her project, In Silence... And In Tears, which will be directed by writer/director Didi Cheeka, also from Nigeria, who describes the project as follows:

This film is my salute to doomed outcasts, people who transgress the limits of their society, risking terrible evil, and confronting their own destruction. The world may ultimately destroy them, but not till they say their say. It’s how I salute them, these doomed outcasts: In silence …& in tears.

The project has been gaining traction over the last year, first as an alum of the Berlin Talent Campus last year, then the Babylon International program (a three-way partnership between Berlin, UK, and the Nigerian film companies), and the Durban FilmMart, last summer, when it was listed as being in pre-production.

In silence... And In Tears centers on Salome, a young Muslim woman who takes part in a mixed-tribe street performance of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, in the tribally-scarred northern Nigerian city of Jos. The performance is done in a desperate desire to end the killings happening daily in the streets.

Salome is driven to madness by the betrayal & brutality of her family, her community, & the world outside. A re-encounter with her stage lover, & the possibility of redemption, catapults her into the most desperate of all desires - vengeance.

Director Cheeka says he's always been intrigued by women driven to the edge, responding violently to their own despair and the cruelty of the world around them. He further states that the story was partly inspired by the real life story of an Indian girl in Uganda whose father banished her from his life because she took part in a class production of Romeo And Juliet, and kissed her Ugandan stage lover, in a production whose intent was to confront their tribal prejudices.

Of note, when discussion about who he'd like to see play the lead role (Salome), there is mention of Ethiopian model, Liya Kebede, and Rwandan actress Carole Karemera. But the director has his eyes set on Malian model, actress, Youma Diakite (above) for the part, stating: "I saw Youma Diakite, Malian model, actress, of Ocean’s Twelve and I knew I’d seen Salome. At once vulnerable and smoldering with suppressed fire, a strange mixture of some wild, desert place beneath the faintest touch of tenderness and womanness."

It's not clear whether she's actually been approached, or is attached to the project. Her role in Ocean's Twelve was minor. 

But with the interest the project has attracted thus far (Berlin, Durban, now Rotterdam, etc), it looks like it's well on its way to becoming a reality. 

The budget is listed at 1.3 million Euro (or about $1.5 million).

Stay tuned...

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