Mother of George: A polycultural portrait of Brooklyn

Andrew Dosunmu’s JustFilms-supported feature film, Mother of George, is about one immigrant’s struggles to balance the expectations of her native Basotho culture and the opportunities of her new life in America. In the New York Times, reporter John Anderson looks at the long process of making the film, including the crucial role played by funding from the Ford Foundation. Mother of George, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Published in the New York Times | August 29, 2013
Family problems with delicate solutions
By John Anderson

Among the Yoruba of Africa, said Andrew Dosunmu, the Nigerian-born director and photographer, uncles are held in special regard. “If my uncle walks in here,” he said over lunch in Brooklyn, “I introduce him as my dad, because he’s responsible for me if my father’s not around. Your uncle is the same as your dad. The idea is, it’s the same blood, and there’s an obligation.”

Fathers, uncles and paternal responsibility are at the core of “Mother of George,” a new drama from Mr. Dosunmu, whose fiction feature, “Restless City,” was a bold debut with striking imagery. The follow-up, opening on Sept. 13 in New York, has been called “visually splendid” by Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. An acclaimed photographer, Mr. Dosunmu has a background in fashion and advertising that informs his approach to the movie camera. And his eye for design has led him from Lagos, to Paris, to Johannesburg and, 17 years ago, to New York.

“Sometimes, I have to look at old passports and say, ‘When exactly did I get here?’ ” he said, with his high-pitched laugh. “But I’ve spent half of my life in America. And ‘Mother of George’ is just a different voice in the immigrant’s tale of New York City.”

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.