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Student’s film puts spotlight on mental health


close up of person's face looking angrily into the mirror

A former University of Bradford student has shed a light on potential mental health challenges facing immigrants from Africa in a short film.

Raphael Adeoshun, who graduated in December last year after completing a MA Filmmaking at the University of Bradford, has produced and directed ‘Afro’.

The nine-minute-long film follows Olu, a student originally from Nigeria who is undergoing mental health difficulties. He has been suspended by his school and is undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy, a psycho-social intervention that aims to reduce symptoms of mental health conditions.

Olu, played by Akinwande Adedeji, claims to have a ‘Devil on his shoulder’ and, after an incident at work, is interviewed by two solicitors, played by Chris Iheuwa and Madelyn Cox, who look to gain more of an insight into his mental health.

a person dressed in a suit sat down at a table

Raphael, who is originally from Nigeria, says his film looks at the challenges faced by immigrant students, particularly those from Africa, adapting to living in a new country. It explores the struggles amid mental health issues and trying to adapt to life in a new country.

The film ends with the following message: “African immigrants tend to attribute their reoccurring challenges to ancestral powers or beliefs, though some of these issues may be related to mental health. Do you agree with Olu’s perspective or the solicitors’?”

The film has also received recognition in Europe after it was selected as a finalist in the Saronikos International Festival of Creative Arts, held in Greece in September last year.

‘Afro’ also received an honourable mention at the Student World Impact Film Festival and the Northampton Film Festival.

a former student sat down on a chair

Raphael, 25, pictured above, said: “I’m proud of the project. I did the majority of the work myself with the help of a few friends. I had the story for a while. It took me about three months to do the film.

“It is a story a young man who is an artist and has a lot of challenges and settling down in a new country.

“I had a colleague who had a very similar story to Olu. That was in my mind.”

Raphael added he was pleased to return to the University of Bradford to stage a premiere for ‘Afro’ at the Theatre in the Mill, which is located on-campus. He hopes to release the film online on April 1.

a person wearing a red T-shirt sat down drawing a picture

He said: “It was amazing, to be honest. This was a chance to do something with it. Coming back to the University was amazing, to bring everyone back together for my movie.

“It’s a dream come through for me. I now work as a digital creator in Manchester. I like the journey. It helps me to improve. I keep learning trying out new things in my field. 

“Film to me is a journey, so is life. I still want to make another film later this year. I enjoy being a creator.

Dr Mark Goodall, Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Design and Technology at the University of Bradford, who is credited as a supervisor on the film, said: “I was pleased with how ‘Afro’ turned out.

“Raphael managed to draw on his own experiences to create a striking and original drama exploring anxiety, trauma and myth.”