Young Australian filmmaker, Genna Chanelle Hayes has unveiled the trailer of her debut feature film, ‘Akoni’, which marks the beginning of the ﬁlm’s cinema journey in Australia, New Zealand and West Africa.
Starring UK actor Kit Esuruoso in the titular role, the film follows a homeless Nigerian refugee who struggles to integrate into Australian society after escaping the clutches of Boko Haram. While living on the streets and on the receiving end of racist taunts from a group of drunken men, a young woman (Hayes) comes to his aid and offers him a place to stay. Struggling with her own heartbreak, she soon finds solace in her unlikely new companion as he opens her up to a world beyond her current life of modelling, parties and social media.
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With the number of globally displaced people at its highest in recorded history, Hayes, who single-handedly wrote, directed and produced her debut feature ﬁlm across Australia, West Africa and the UK, said the time was right to push ahead with the release.
“The mass exodus in Ukraine this year has really shown the West that displacement is real, that times are increasingly difﬁcult and that coming together in support of each other is our only way forward. Watching people open up their homes to those in need is a beautiful thing. Akoni speaks to that – to kindness, to open hearts and unity.”
The ﬁlm premiered to a sold-out audience on opening night at CinefestOz and boasts a talented local and international cast including Kit Esuruoso, Genna Chanelle Hayes, Mark Coles Smith, Jemima Osunde, Ophelia Dzidzornu, Rashidi Edward, Gemma Forsyth, Marlikka Perdrisat, Simon Elrahi and Pippa Grandison.
“It’s a challenging road being a young independent ﬁlmmaker in Australia, more so in a pandemic world, but I believe that audiences are more than ready for stories like AKONI, and I’m happy that One World can work with exhibitors and platforms to share them.”
‘Akoni’ is being released on August 11 through Hayes’ company One World Creative.
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