“Dear John” by a 12-year old Nigerian Director

"Dear John" by a 12-year old Nigerian Director
©Joseph Albanese 2016

“Dear John” by a 12-year old Nigerian director wins “Best Movie by a Kid” from the Real Time Film Festival and selected for five other international film festivals.

Americans can be considered to be some of the richest people in the world. As an American, we can forget that we have necessities that we pay for that actually come to us pretty easily such as clean water, electricity, and even companies that have people pick up our trash weekly.

It’s understood that we pay for these things but it’s almost taken for granted that these companies exist and make things easier for us to follow the American dream. In other developing countries such as Nigeria, we can see that even gas for our stove is automatically put into most apartments and houses in the Unites States.

“Dear John” shows us that in Nigeria when your gas from the stove runs out you have to replace the gas tank to be able to continue cooking. You can be cooking a meal and your gas can run out which means that you must go outside in the rain, heat, or snow (if it snowed in Nigeria), to change the gas.

This story was told by David a little boy who has trouble speaking English but is telling a past moment, or actually,reading out loud a letter he is writing to his older brother John, about a memory he has in his childhood. It’s as if David can now tell his side of the story because he can now write and speak English enough to narrate his film and write a reply back to his brother’s letter.

In this 8-minute film, we are placed in David’s home. We can see he has a simple life as a kid and in his world, his sisters are most important to him and his brother who does not live with him. We never see David’s mother and father’s face but we know their roles in David’s life. His mother is preparing a meal while he sleeps and his father is in the house and changes the tank for his wife when the gas runs out.

There are two stories happening at once, one where David is living his life in another room in his own society with his sisters and another story that happens in the kitchen about his parents. This film brings us back to a familiar feeling of when our parents would leave us on our own while they tackled their responsibilities.

In the times when our parents left us alone, we played with our siblings, learn from our siblings, and made own decisions. We were almost unaware of what our parents had to do while we were alone because we were too busy in our child’s world. In this film, both worlds meet in the middle when the empty keg David’s father brings back into the house had a scorpion living underneath.

In America, we don’t worry much about scorpions or other animal dangers because we have  done such a great job of keeping animal life and human life separate for the most part. In Nigeria, it’s known that a scorpion’s tail can end your life.

The only one who was aware of the scorpion was David. He saw the scorpion that day and kept his sisters away from the scorpion without them knowing why he was acting so strange. Actually, he was unable to verbally communicate with them that there was a scorpion in the house.

Unable to warn his family, the day progressed and night fell and everyone went to bed. It wasn’t until morning where we’re brought back into his parent’s life where his father gets ready for work. The last thing his father must do before he leaves is put on his shoes and when he does the scorpion stabs his foot with its stinger after being disturbed from a night iat peace.

The story ends there because David finishes his letter to his brother. We’re left not knowing what happened to David’s father, David, or the rest of his family. We can only assume what might have happened.

The film brings back the nostalgia of simpler times in childhood when all you worried about was play. This film seems to be one of David’s earliest memories and he was able to remember this moment because of how important it was to him.

This film makes you flashback to your childhood and has you reconcile. It’s that feeling that helps us relate to David because as a child we only can do the best we can.

It’s obvious why “Dear John” is being considered for many awards not only because the director is a 12-year old boy, but because this film brings us all back to our simpler lives as a child. This story seems to be the transition from boy to man for David. A story we can all relate to.

There’s a moment in our timelines where we begin to develop memories and make our own decisions. We become aware of ourselves and our place in our families and begin to develop our identity, David’s film, “Dear John” is a reminder of that simpler time and leaves us with unsettling feelings like our own childhoods have possibly done for us.

What will become of David? That’s the beautiful question because obviously, he learned English as he grew up and narrates his own story. Not only that, he directs his own film. So we can only assume that this little boy will become something great, if not already great, and we hope to hear back from him once again. Like an old friend we say goodbye to David and wish his family the best.

Yessenia Diaz has a background in graphic and web design but is also intrigued by writing and teaching. Yessenia created Tru.Works as an outlet for all her talents and continues collecting stories from around the world to share with people all across the interweb. Follow Yessenia on Instagram and her favorite, Twitter, @ythegreatdiaz.

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