Filmmaker Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule’s debut feature film “The Burial of Kojo” will screen at IU Libraries Moving Image Archive on Wednesday after its release on Netflix last month.
“The Burial of Kojo” follows the story of two brothers, told through the perspective of one of their daughters and the girl’s relationship with them. While some say the genre is magical realism or afrofuturism, Bazawule does not like to put his works into boxes.
“They see things that may trigger in them a futurist or a surrealist effect, but I didn’t make any of that with those kinds of boxes in mind,” Bazawule said. “I made the film because that’s the way I grew up listening to stories, those are my grandmother’s stories and she doesn’t even know what the word ‘afrofuturism’ means.”
Bazawule’s main intention through his films is representation of Africans in cinema, he said.
“They are all kind of trying to tackle a similar subject, which is other worldliness of African experiences, which is a very common thing but isn’t seen much in out cinema,” Bazawule said.
While Bazawule grew up in Ghana, he moved to the United States to attend Kent State University. After recording songs and making an album, Bazawule started his own record label called Embassy MVMT.
“I started my label because there was just no real opportunity for an African MC to have a path in the west,” Bazawule said. “The only way I could do that was self-release my own project and house it within some kind of entity.”
Bazawule is also apart of the TED Fellows Program, which connects young creators with people who will help them in professional coaching and mentoring.
“As a TED Fellow you get access to other brilliant people who are on a similar journey, similar paths and that’s the main benefit of the fellowship, of any kind really, is that you get to socialize and you get to learn from and experience your journey with other creators who are most usually on their own creative journeys,” Bazawule said.
Bazawule said a large success for him was to have his film be available on Netflix because it reached so many people.
“My distributor, Ava DuVernay, has a long standing relationship with them and made it very easy for us to walk in there and them accept the film,” Bazawule said.
DuVernay is a director, producer, screenwriter, film marketer and film distributor. She has a documentary on Netflix and has award-winning films that focus on race.
“This film scales an opportunity to kind of just tackle and give some kind of life to something that is experienced a lot on the continent but very seldom shown,” Bazawule said.
“The Burial of Kojo” is now streaming on Netflix.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified when "The Burial of Kojo" was released. The IDS regrets this error.
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