Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

SUNDANCE LONDON: Minnie Driver, David Harewood Table Read Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Autobiographical 'Farming'

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood May 1, 2012 at 12:21PM

The inaugural Sundance London had much to recommend it over the weekend: the presence of Robert Redford; a concert by Rupert and Martha Wainwright; a giant white dome (the O2 Arena) in which to seek shelter from the non-stop rain while catching the pick of this year’s Sundance crop...
1
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
getty Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

The inaugural Sundance London had much to recommend it over the weekend: the presence of Robert Redford; a concert by Rufus and Martha Wainwright; a giant white dome (the O2 Arena) in which to seek shelter from the non-stop rain while catching the pick of this year’s Sundance crop. It also supplied a home-based platform for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje to hold a reading of his script "Farming" in front of a small gathering of UK film industry folk.

Still probably best known for his role as the memorable (but short-lived) Mr. Eko in "Lost," Akinnuoye-Agbaje spent a few years writing and developing "Farming" at the Sundance Lab and assembled a great British cast for the reading, which took place in a small club in "The O2" (to give it its local moniker). All sporting black t-shirts with "Farming" in bold white lettering (“We’re going to have to up our game,” smiled one Sundance US rep in attendance), Minnie Driver, David Harewood ("Homeland"), Jonathan Hyde, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Jaime Winstone and a few others breathed life into Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s humorous but harrowing account of his own youth in 1970s Britain, when Nigerian immigrants would frequently "farm" out their children to white working-class families in order to devote themselves to work, study and building better lives.

"Farming" is told through the eyes of Enitan, read by Ashley Walters, who grows up in torment and confusion after being abandoned by his parents to Ingrid, a heartless (and very funny, as read by Driver) British woman who fills her home with Nigerian children for mostly selfish reasons. Enitan’s grim journey includes a return to Africa, where his family reject him because he can’t adapt; sent back to Britain, he eventually, shockingly, falls into step with a white skinhead gang.

The notion of a black racist skinhead is an unsettling one, and that section of the script generated the greatest hush in the room. At the end, the reading was greeted with an ovation, and Akinnuoye-Agbaje insists that "Farming" is a predominantly true account of his experiences. “It’s a shocking revelation that such a paradox could exist,” he says, “but it’s a real one. And it’s a small part of the story, which addresses much broader issues than a film like 'This Is England.'”

As it’s his story, he has aspirations to direct. “That’s always been my goal,” vouches Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who left Lost in 2007, he says, in order to develop Farming at Sundance’s labs. “There’s always a little trepidation in baring your soul to the world but I’m extremely pleased how it went down,” he says. He’s currently meeting with producers with the hopes of getting financing in place by the end of the year. “Feedback is still trickling through but it’s been overwhelmingly positive. It’s a story with difficult truths to face but it has the positive outcome of self-discovery and the triumph over adversity. It’s also a celebration of that era in Britain – our music, our fashions and our humour.”

Akinnuoye-Agbaje also has a couple of high-profile acting roles coming. He just finished playing Sylvester Stallone’s arch-enemy in the Walter Hill-directed cop thriller "Bullet To The Head," and also has a featured role in HBO’s upcoming series "Hunted." He laughs when I ask if there’s any news on "The Black Panther," which Akinnuoye-Agbaje has gone on record saying he’d love to play should Marvel ever decide to bring their black superhero to the big screen. “Everyone always asks if there’s news on that,” he chuckles. “Certainly there’s interest from me but I have no idea what Marvel’s intentions are. It would be a great cherry on the cake.”

This article is related to: Sundance, Festivals, Screenwriters, Minnie Driver, Robert Redford, Genres


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.