Internationally renowned filmmakers, fashion practitioners, visual artists and DJs the Nest Collective collaborated with activists and artists in London and Cape Town, from their home in Nairobi, Kenya, to create this series of brief, evocative documentaries.
The anthology of voices, collectively titled as The Feminine and the Foreign, offers intimate portraits of people who have pushed back against the forces that oppress and violate minority communities worldwide, with a focus on feminist, queer and migrant rights. The Nest interviewed Black activists in London, exploring the intersection of ideas and action between local and pan-African experience, and sought to understand how different generations of Black Londoners relate to London as their home, asking how young activists can develop their practice in a public arena unforgiving of mistakes.
The London chapters of the anthology premiered in June 2022 at Shipwright as part of LIFT 2022 and We Are Lewisham, and are now available to view online, free of charge, until Sunday 5th March 2023.
ABOUT THE FILMS
VOL. I: In Which A Filmmaker Tells Us How To Dismantle Empire
Featuring Veronica McKenzie, a writer, director, and budding historian, with work including ‘UNDER YOUR NOSE’ (2017) about UK black LGBTQ+ history, and MONICA LOOSE ON A CRUISE which was a BFI Flare 2019 selection. Veronica wrote, produced, and directed her debut feature ‘NINE NIGHTS’ which won the Pan African Film Festival Narrative Feature Director Award 2019 and is currently on Amazon. In 2021 Veronica completed a two-year National Lottery-funded Haringey Vanguard BAME LGBTQ+ history project working with the London Metropolitan Archives and recently won the JETS European initiative for the UK, with her feature in development Proper Charlie.
VOL. II: In Which A Writer Shows Us How Community Is Lifesaving
Featuring Phil Samba, a health promotion specialist, researcher, social activist and writer with over five years of experience working in public health. His work primarily focuses on reducing the health inequalities of people of colour and in particular, improving the sexual and mental health of queer men of colour and increasing accurate visibility and representation for Black queer men.
VOL. III: In Which A Theatre Maker Shares The Recipe For Dreams That Come True
Featuring Indie Max, a creative explorer. His work spans acting, music, producing and now directing theatre. He has been a member of Sounds like Chaos for 10 years, devising and performing in shows such as ‘Phenomena’, ‘Wow Everything Is Amazing!’ and ‘Fire in the Machine’. He has also performed with a number of collaborators including The Science Museum, Lyric Hammersmith, Manchester International Festival & The Unicorn Theatre.
VOL. IV: In Which 2 Young Londoners Attend A School For (Good) Troublemakers
Featuring Iman Ahmed. Imam works as a camera trainee in film and tv and has worked across a range of productions. She is an alumni of London Screen Academy, a film school founded by some of the UK’s most successful film producers at Working Title Films.
And Nimrod Wansavi-Francisco, a 20-year-old social activist from the Netherlands based in South London. At the Advocacy Academy, he learned the basics of community organising theory over a six month intensive programme. With the skills he learnt and alongside three queer people of colour, he launched ICONIQ, a safe space for queer young people of colour with/without the intersection of faith. Difficult familial relationships, rejection and estrangements are a reality for some of those in the queer community, meaning a traditional Christmas spent with family is off the table. And so they launched Queermas, a space with their chosen families, the people who can understand them and love them unconditionally.
VOL. V: In Which A Beauty Queen Reminds Us That Everyone Comes From The Stars
Featuring Miss saHHara, a British Nigerian singer/songwriter, fashion model, beauty queen, the founder of TransValid.org, and Miss Trans Global. A keen beauty and fashion enthusiast, she has cat-walked for numerous designers at London Fashion Week, graced the covers of several magazines, hosted and appeared in shows across Europe and Asia.
In 2011, Miss saHHara was the subject of a Sky Living documentary exploring the lives of trans women participating in beauty pageants in Thailand. In 2014, she was crowned the first ever Super Sireyna Worldwide, a global transgender beauty pageant, which made her the first black trans woman to win an international beauty competition. At the pageant, she represented her birth country Nigeria, to draw attention to the negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in Africa. As part of her advocacy, she started TransValid Organisation. A global awareness project for transgender people and allies to tackle misconceptions, fear, and violence against transgender people worldwide. TransValid empowers the community by using media forums and outreach programs to educate members of the public. She is currently the President and Executive Producer Miss Trans Global, an annual event providing a platform for a diverse heritage of transgender women from all works of life. The pageant’s key goal is to raise awareness about the plight of transgender women in the UK, Nigeria and globally.
VOL VI : In Which An Alchemist Illuminates That Black Worlds Are Worth Saving For Black People
Featuring Ama Josephine Budge, a British-Ghanaian speculative writer, artist, scholar, curator and pleasure activist whose praxis navigates intimate explorations of race, art, ecology and feminism, working to catalyse social justice, environmental evolutions and troublesomely queered identities. Ama is a PhD candidate in Psychosocial Studies with Dr Gail Lewis and Dr Margarita Palacious at Birkbeck University of London. Ama is the recipient of the 2020 Local, International and Planetary Fictions Fellowship with Curatorial Frame (Helsinki) and EVA International (Limerick), and will be researching the topic Pleasurable Ecologies – Formations of Care: Curation as Future-building. Ama is also a member of Queer Ecologies 2020 and initiator of the Apocalypse Reading Room project. Her visual art and written work have been commissioned, exhibited and published internationally including with Jupiter Artland, Casco Art Institute, the Architectural Review, the Feminist Review, Aperture, Whitechapel Gallery, Duke University Press and more.
NAIROBI, CAPE TOWN AND RHEIN-MAIN CHAPTERS
The Nest Collective have continued the project, collaborating with Wiesbaden Biennale to create the Rhein-Main and Nairobi chapters.
They worked with Black artists, community workers, activists and thinkers in the metropolitan area that surrounds the city of Frankfurt to create an additional set of moving portraits exploring community strengthening, healing and future-making across generations of Black activism and resistance in the region.
At the same time, the Nest Collective created the Nairobi chapters of Feminine and the Foreign, exploring the organising, community work and movement building going on in their home city. These films explore the successes and failures in Black African movement building, consider how healing is taking place within these movements, and reflect on how love and hope are being fostered, even during really difficult times.
Stay tuned for the launch of the Cape Town films, commissioned by Institute for Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town and created at the height of the pandemic.
Commissioned by LIFT, the Institute for the Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and the British Council. Supported by British Council’s Sub-Saharan Africa new Art new Audiences programme, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, We Are Lewisham and the Albany. We Are Lewisham is presented by Lewisham Council and the Albany as part of the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2022. A LIFT Tottenham Commission.
Institute for Creative Arts – University of Cape Town
The British Council
LIFT – The London International Festival of Theatre
The Nest Collective
Kris Nelson & Stella Kanu
Composer and Sound Mix
Amaya Jeyarajah Dent
Jane Pauline Waithera
Camilla Gutiérrez Aguilera
Honouring The Work of (In Order Of Appearance):
Ama Josephine Budge
First Assistant Director
Studio Production Assistant
Carolyn ML Forsyth
School of African Studies, London
The entire We Are Lewisham team
The entire team at the Albany