G I A N T S
Written & Directed By: DeObia Oparei
G I A N T S is the story of immigrants and their descendants in London, UK. This short film narrative tells the story of how art freed and saved the life of a queer black poet. This choreopoem is a song of freedom to invoke and inspire others to free themselves and release their G I A N T S.
"I wrote G I A N T S because as a black, queer, artist I felt a need to start telling my own stories. As a professional actor I grew tired of having other people's narratives written on my body that distorted my humanity. Reduced my large physicality to a monosyllabic, emotionally dead, weapon of mass destruction. And erased or clowned my queerness. As a first time screenwriter and director I had to start somewhere so I started at the beginning with my parents. My mother and father were Nigerian immigrants who escaped the Biafran War and came to the United Kingdom in search of shelter.
When Russia invaded Ukraine. The outpouring of love, support and offers of shelter for Ukrainian immigrants resounded around the western world - and rightly so - I felt it underscored the underlying message woven into
G I A N T S. That of immigration apartheid in our world which deems black and brown immigrants unworthy of the same respect and protections afforded European ones.
I also wanted to begin to tell the stories of the people in my birth city, London. I cast people off the street, at a train station, in a gym changing room and a waiter in a restaurant. Because in their everyday, hardworking faces I saw my immigrant parents. Through them, I sought to invoke the power and the energy of the immigrant. The film is a praise song to these immigrant ancestors who have sown their seeds into the land that produced the writers, entrepreneurs, artists and artisans that make London a vibrant city and the UK a far richer place because of their labor. But in the central character's demise I depict the physical and mental toll this unacknowledged labor has had on the black immigrant in the UK.
I thought I wanted to write about aliens who visit earth or a sci-fi love affair between a queer earthling and a martian. And maybe I still do. But this is the story I felt I had to write before I could write that. G I A N T S is an homage to the people in whose blood and sweat my black African and British voice has been forged.
G I A N T S began as an inaugural poem for a leading performing arts academy in London where I've recently been made an artist-in-residence. The managing director of the academy, Michael Ward, heard the poem, was deeply moved and felt that the world needed to hear this message. He graciously offered to produce and finance this film. And when actress Indira Varma, with whom I have worked as an actor on Game Of Thrones, agreed to work on the project, without reading a script and based on a pitch I gave to her over the phone. I was overjoyed. To both I am incredibly and eternally grateful because the process of writing and reclaiming my own narrative, as well as becoming a first time director, has meant stepping into my own G I A N T ."
- DeObia Oparei - Writer & Director
Behind The Scenes
G I A N T S
"It's the shit in our lives from which the flowers grow"
"Live beyond the borders of black and white."
"An immigrant African single mother. A queer sensitive black boy. Struggling newcomers to this land."