At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, two Nigerian films were screened and both of which harevsted international deals; one being Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, Lionheart, which was picked up by Netflix and most recently Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s film Farming, which marks the Nigerian-British actor’s feature debut as well.
The film recently picked up by Lionsgate via a deal struck with UK-based distribution company, Hanway Films, is loosely based on Adewale’s life.
Set in the 1960s London, the fim follows a boy, Enitan, a London-born Nigerian boy, whose Yoruba parents “farm” him to a white working-class British family in hopes of giving him a better future. The film takes in his bid to settle in a new world, with characters including his foster mother Ingrid (Kate Beckinsale), gang leader Levi (John Dagleish) and teacher Ms. Dapo (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).
The term “farming” was the peculiar euphemism given to the practice, prevalent in 1960s and ’70s England, whereby working or studying Nigerian parents would pay white British families to foster their children. And so the film opens with Femi (Akinnuoye-Agbaje playing his own father) and Tolu (Genevieve Nnaji) tearfully handing over their infant son Enitan and a wad of banknotes to Ingrid Carpenter (Kate Beckinsale), a working-class wife from a Gypsy background, living in a terraced house in Tilbury.