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Culture Spotlight Featuring Stanley Asiegbulem

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Stanley emigrated to the US at age 10 and is currently based in NYC. He studied directing at Emerson College where he discovered his penchant for narrative, character-driven storytelling. Stanley directed the music video, “American Legend” which was an official selection at the Hip Hop Film Festival in 2018. His most recent film, “The True Ones” a narrative short, is set to premiere this festival season.

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival? My time at the hip hop film festival was uplifting. I was just about to move to NYC right when my work was selected and it was the first festival that I attended in the city. There was also something about Harlem as the setting that really resonated. The filmmakers there all seemed to be really supportive of one another and that’s always nice to see in an industry that’s otherwise very competitive.

Why are stories from the culture important? With the rhetoric of the festival being that selections are in some way rooted in the culture of Hip Hop, it was interesting to see how that translated across the board. Seeing stories like these that are from the culture are essential in keeping the culture in momentum because they are told in varying formats ie; music videos, film, musicals, one-man-shows, etc. This diversifying of the cultural expression is ultimately what I think art should do within any cultural landscape, but in the context of Hip Hop, in particular, it emphasizes its versatility.

What projects are you working on now? Currently, I’m in the early stages of writing a feature about the world ending and this being a non-event. I’m finding that there’s so much to explore there within a literal cataclysmic thing happening and this is met with responses outside the norm. In a way, the characters in this story confront this not with hysteria or anarchy but with a resigned acceptance of their transience. There’s a lot of reconciliation and waxing existentialism. It’s somewhat of a magical reality. I also think in many ways it’s satirical of present society and our disposition towards the impending climate disaster. I’m in the -throwing paint at walls- phase, and more and more the whole thing is becoming less nebulous

Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival is important? Cinema and visual art, in general, require exhibition. If there’s no platform to exhibit, there’s no art. The Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival provides a platform for curators to showcase their work, specifically work that lends itself to the culture of Hip Hop and to my knowledge that’s a scarce outlet.

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