Director Abba Makama has created some of the most visually and thematically interesting films in Africa in recent times thanks in part to the art that inspires him. Dodorowsky, as he’s fondly called, is regarded as one of the freshest African voices, making a killing at major film festivals like Toronto International Film Festival(Tiff), twice now, with his films Green White Green and The Lost Okoroshi.
Along with CJ Obasi and Michael Gouken of the Surreal 16 collective, his unique brand of storytelling combines elements of/from masquerades, dreamscapes, art, music, dance and more importantly, his greatest inspiration, Alejandro Jodorowksy, a Chilean-French Artist, who has worked as a screenwriter, a poet, a playwright, an essayist, a film and theater director and producer, an actor, a film editor, a comic writer, a musician and composer, a philosopher, a puppeteer, a mime, a psychologist and psychoanalyst, a draughtsman, a painter, a sculptor, and a spiritual guru. He also serves as the inspiration behind Makama’s nickname “Dodorowsky”
In this video essay, Jeffrey Stillwell takes a sweeping look at Alejandro Jodorowsky
Dreams, Surrealism and Satire
Jodorowsky, an expert on psychotherapy , uses masquerades, puppetry and stage design to create a fusion that feels bizzare and surreal.
Makama also draws heavily from his understanding of Freudian and Jungian psychological theories, showing up in his short, Shaitan, and second feature, The Lost Okoroshi. His paintings have not been excluded from this sweeping influence. Two art exhibitions have been dedicated to: a) the exploration of the unconscious, Hypnagogia, inspired by waking hallucinations b) Images from the Collective Unconscious.
On Lost Okoroshi, he says, “Again, back to Jung’s theory of collective unconscious, which is where everything comes from. Nationality and ethnicity so to speak are kind of social constructs if you think about it. For instance, where does Tarok land start from geographically? Is there a line on planet earth that God or whoever, marked, that says this is Tarok land and this is Igbo land.”
Most Jodorowsky films are satires with religious undertones, with projects like The Holy Mountain and The Dance of reality. Makama’s background in satire stretches as far back as 2010 with his short Directoh, an hilarious piece on a Nollywood director who tries to make a film in one day. Green White Green and POM vs Quacks are satires about Nigerian politics and culture wars. However, his short film Shaitan is closer to his Jodorosky roots with its deeply spiritually insidious tones.
You can watch Makama’s fireside chat at the Light Camera Action 2019