The Watchlist: Michael Omonua’s favourite films

Michael Omonua is a Nigerian film director and writer. He received his BA in Film Production at the University College of the Creative Arts, in Farnham, Surrey, and has since gone on to write and direct short films in both the United Kingdom and Nigeria. He premiered his debut feature film, The Man Who Cuts Tattoos, at the London Film Festival to acclaim from critics globally. His most recent offering, Rehearsal, a biting satiric short film inspired by the theatricality of church sermons, featured in the Berlinale Shorts Competition 2021. The critically acclaimed director walks us through the films that have exposed him to the beauty of cinema.

  1. Flirt 

A 1995 coming of age drama film written and directed by Hal Hartley. It tells the story of a lover who has to choose whether to commit to a partner who is returning home. This situation is played out in different cities (New York, Berlin and Tokyo). 

  1. Trust

A 1990 American romantic black comedy written and directed by Hal Hartley. It concerns the unusual romance between two young misfits wandering the same Long Island town.

  1. Memento

A 2000 American Neo-noir psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. A modern-day classic, the film is acclaimed by critics, who praise its nonlinear narrative structure and motifs of memory, perception, grief, and self-deception. It tells the story Leonard (Guy Pearce) who is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his wife’s killer is compounded by the fact that he suffers from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss.


  1. A Moment of Innocence

A 1996 film directed by Moshen Makhmalbaf. Described as a dizzying hybrid of autobiography, documentary, and mythology, and a bold testament to our innate decency and capacity for love, the film accounts for Makmahlbaf’s experience as a teenager when, as a seventeen-year-old, he stabbed a policeman at a protest rally and was jailed.

  1. Waiting for Happiness

A 2002 Mauritanian drama film written and directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. Hailed as a spellbinding African film about the modern condition of rootlessness, a state experienced by millions around the globe. The film is a mosaic of characters, small incidents and images, quietly observed, never explained. A 17-year-old youth devoted to Western ways is staying a few days with his mother while waiting for the train that will take him to Europe. He can no longer speak his tribal language and learns a few words from an elderly electrician’s apprentice. The electrician, who has trouble getting lamps to work, is depressed – he hates travel and travel tales, and his best friend has left, never to return.


  1. Late Autumn 

A 1960 Japanese drama film directed by Yasujiro Ozu. The film follows the attempts of three older men to help the widow of a late friend to marry off her daughter. The daughter is less than happy at the proposals, mainly because of her reluctance to leave her mother alone. It is one of the lesser-known offerings of Ozu, but it remains a critical darling.


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