Intimate in scope but big in feeling, this feature debut by Omar S. Kamara is a deeply-felt story about two long-separated brothers who are reunited in Los Angeles over a long weekend—but events take a surprising turn.
Alhaji (Dillon Daniel Mutyaba) and Sheku (Omete Anassi) are first-generation brothers from Sierra Leone whose family had emigrated to America for a better life. Here, their destinies have taken decidedly different directions. Alhaji is an aspiring West Coast actor, while Sheku is studying law at Georgetown.
When Sheku arrives in L.A. to visit Alhaji for a long weekend, the typical brotherly activities commence, meaning lots of partying and trash talk.
Alhaji announces that he’s up for a leading role in a new film, and Sheku says that he’s on the verge of landing a high-paying internship. Both of them are anxious to live up to the expectations of their parents, who believe that subsequent generations should be more successful than those that came before them.
It all sounds fantastic, but something’s not quite right here. There are double meanings in everything the brothers say to each other, and a secret will be exposed that will change the dynamics of their relationship completely.
Kamara has a terrific ear for dialogue—and the dialogue in African Giants rings with authenticity. And well it should. The filmmaker says that he based the story on his real-life experiences with his own little brother. His words are vibrantly alive, thanks to Mutyaba’s and Anassi’s effective portrayals.
From a production standpoint, the film looks and sounds great, with sharp cinematography by Jonas Fischer, who is also making his feature debut. The evocative score is provided by Justin Schornstein, who is reteaming with Kamara, having previously worked with him on the 2021 short film Mass Ave.
After winning a well-deserved Audience Award at Slamdance, African Giants was picked up for distribution by Juno Films. It is scheduled for more festival screenings, followed by theatrical and multi-platform releases over the summer and fall. This is good news. It’s a relatable film that deserves to be seen by a wide audience.