“Lagos es una ciudad llena de vida y energía, pero también puede ser peligrosa e impredecible”
Babatunde Apalowo intended to dedicate his debut feature film, ‘All the Colors of the World Are Between Black and White’, to Lagos, but an homophobic attack on his roommate at the university turned his story upside down. “It lifted the veil of ignorance from my eyes, to see beyond my pompous declaration of love to the city,” shares the Nigerian director, screenwriter and producer. Using an understated color composition, his film tells a tender and restrained story about two men who find themselves attracted to each other in a society where same-sex sexual relations are considered taboo and subject to prosecution. This vibrant and compelling human portrait is seen through the perspective of its two protagonists, who are laboriously working to find their place in the world, while struggling to come to terms with their own internal psychological and emotional turmoils. A sensual and politically important film, winner of the Teddy Award at the last Berlinale.
-What inspired you to create ‘All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White’ and what does the film mean to you personally?
-‘All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White’ was initially intended to be a love letter to the city of Lagos, celebrating its vibrant energy and culture. However, the film took on a deeper meaning when I witnessed a tragic event that would change the course of the story. While in University, I had a bunkmate who was lynched because of his sexual orientation right in front of me while I watched helplessly. This event inspired me to tell the story of Bambino, a metaphorical outsider who finds himself questioning his own identity while reconciling his past. I wanted to explore the struggles and challenges that he and others like him face in a society that often rejects and punishes those who are different. It is a deeply personal and meaningful film for me, as it touches on themes of identity, belonging, and the human experience in all its complexity. It is inspired by real events in my life and the lives of others, and I feel a strong connection to the characters and their struggles. I approached the process with a focus on authenticity and emotional honesty, wanting to tell a love story that was grounded in reality and universal in its themes. I am proud of the work that went into bringing this film to life, and I hope that it will have a meaningful impact on its audience. I believe that this film has the power to inspire empathy and understanding in its viewers, and to help bridge the gap between different cultures, communities, and individuals.
– How did Lagos influence the film?
– The setting of Lagos played a crucial role in the film ‘All the Colours of the World Are Between Black and White’. Not only did it provide the backdrop for the story, but it also served as a character in its own right, influencing the experiences and choices of the main characters, Bambino and Bawa. The vibrant and fastpaced energy of the city added to the film’s atmosphere and served as a metaphor for the struggles and obstacles that the characters faced in their relationship. Lagos is a city that is full of life and energy, but it can also be dangerous and unpredictable. Its beauty and chaos were integral to the film and it would not exist without the city. In this way, Lagos added depth and complexity to the story, serving as both a backdrop and a driving force in the film.
– What are the challenges faced while making the film?
– One of the main challenges we faced while making the film was finding the right cast. As the film deals with sensitive and potentially controversial themes, it was important for us to find actors and crew members who were committed to the project and understood the vision for the film. However, this proved to be difficult, as many male actors in Nigeria turned down the roles due to concerns about how it might affect their careers. Despite these challenges, we were eventually able to assemble a talented and dedicated team. Another challenge we faced was navigating the societal expectations and norms in Nigeria, particularly with regards to LGBTQ+ themes. While we were determined to tell an authentic and honest love story, we also had to consider the potential risks and challenges that this might pose. Additionally, we encountered some unexpected challenges on location in Lagos, such as noise and interference from the surrounding area. However, we were able to creatively incorporate these elements into the aesthetic of the story. There were also instances where we were arrested by the police and chased by a mentally unstable man on set, which added to the challenges of production. Overall, it was a challenging but rewarding experience to bring this film to life.
– In the film, there is a focus on the faces of the three main characters while the faces of all the supporting characters are hidden. Is there a reason for this?
– Yes, there is a reason for this stylistic choice in the film. The focus is on the three main characters and their experiences, so I wanted to highlight their faces and emotions. This creates a sense of intimacy and connection with the audience, allowing them to better understand and relate to the characters’ struggles and challenges. The supporting characters, on the other hand are meant to represent more abstract or symbolic figures, so we chose to obscure their faces in order to convey this idea. This not only adds to the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of the film, but also serves as a narrative device to symbolize the isolation and loneliness that the main characters feel, and to represent the larger societal forces that are acting on them. By choosing to have a distinction in how we show faces in the film, I hope to underscore the themes of identity and belonging that are central to the story.
– What impact do you hope this film will make in society?
– I believe that this film has the potential to make a real difference in society. By tackling themes of identity, belonging, and love, it can inspire people to think more deeply about these issues and challenge the societal norms and expectations that can limit our understanding and acceptance of others. I hope that the film will spark important conversations and encourage people to be more open-minded and empathetic towards those who are different from them. Ultimately, I believe that this film has the power to inspire social progress and contribute to a more inclusive and understanding society. As a filmmaker, it is my greatest hope that it will have a meaningful impact on its audience and inspire positive change in the world.
– The film is visually stylish and seems to have a formal presentation. What was the idea behind this?
– The visual style of the film was an important aspect of the storytelling, and we took an experimental approach, We wanted to create a unique and memorable aesthetic that would help to immerse the audience in the world of the film and enhance the themes and emotions of the story. We also decided to tell the story as objectively as possible, grounding the camera and, in turn, the viewers to what a human eye can see. This approach helps to create a sense of realism, like we are just watching real life unfold in real time. The formal presentation and use of stylized visuals were meant to convey the sense of longing and desire that the main characters feel, as well as the societal constraints and expectations that they are struggling against. We also wanted to create a sense of intimacy and connection between the characters and the audience, and the visual style helped to achieve this effect. Overall, the visual style was an integral part of our creative vision for the film, and we hope that it will be memorable and meaningful for the audience.