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Q & A with Liberian filmmaker Robert Sesay

By Ralph Geeplay  

Robert Sesay is a Liberian film maker and writer. His recent film was screened in Philadelphia and did see a successful red carpet premiere in the Greater Philadelphia Area. He is also an author. His debut novel ‘Stolen’ is still a hot seller on Amazon.com. He is writing another novel “The Wild Geese” which is soon to be published. According to information gathered, Robert Sesay is also working on his second film project: “Deadly Affliction” which is due out in December to much anticipation.

Ralph: Who is Robert Sesay and why should anybody want to see your films?

Robert: That’s a loaded a question. I am a Liberian-born writer and film maker, and I currently reside in Bristol, Pennsylvania.  I would say my films are made for the larger audience and are about everyday people. My last film was a romantic comedy *FROZEN LIES* which examines the love lives of several characters. Because the film was so attractive to cross section of people, it got raves review. The film asked and answered questions of insecurity of love, and the drive to get it right at all cost.

 Ralph: You are a Liberian writer of fiction and you are published, how successful was your first novel*? *“Stolen?”

Robert: My first novel didn’t have much of a commercial appeal; however, it did teach me something… that if you are insecure to get your work out there, then you don’t belong in this industry. It’s an industry that is heavily competitive. But I built on the success of my first novel for my forth coming novel *The Wild Geese*.  The upcoming novel tells the story of the Liberian civil war as told by a 12-year old female child soldier.

Ralph: Have you been to any films festivals yet?

Robert: Oh yes… Philly is a major film country if you may… I have been to dozens of them.

Ralph: You are also an enterprising young Liberian businessman, what lines of business are you engaged in?

Robert:  Currently my business ROVASE ASSOCIATES, LLC is a general contracting business. We built just about everything: houses, renovations, pools, back yard patios, decks, landscaping, amongst other. We are a growing entity and business has been good.

Ralph: Let’s talk about your first film ‘Frozen Lines,’ how successful was it, any other project in the pipeline?

Robert: Frozen Lies’ success was mild, but the reception was highly motivational. This has led us into our current project… *Wounded Summer* which we are preparing to shoot early next year or so; like Frozen Lies, *Wounded Summer* is based on two young couple grappling with the disagreement to have a family or not. It’s a very interesting story that also addresses the human emotion of love, ambitious, dreams, abuse among others.

Ralph: There are criticisms that your characters in the film were not Liberians and the whole concept was foreign based? Why was that?

Robert:  The concept itself was about a Liberian girl in Philly area. But because of the shortage of professional Liberian actors or actresses, we have casts an American actress for the lead role. One of the reasons also was that the role requires a nude scene (full frontal) and from the onset that began a sticking point. Because of cultural issue, not many Liberian actresses would be willing to take off their clothes in the name of art… but which is very common with American artists and that’s what we did; the result was perfect.

Ralph: What was the production and the casting like, what kind of movies do you watch?

Robert: I’m more of the indie guy…. of late… I have promised myself to stay out of all Hollywood big budget movies and see only indie movies… so the guys I looked up to for film making, neither of them are household names… but are out there giving out their very best to make a movie… Because with money… I think film making can be a lot easier… that’s why I get lots of respect for those indie producers and directors.

Ralph: Which film maker or writer do you look to for inspiration?

Robert:  I enjoy novels by Robert Ludlum, the master of espionage, he was a great writer. No specific film maker… My inspiration goes to all independent film makers… Because I know what independent film maker go through compare to studio film.

Ralph: Any interesting book you are reading now or that should be a recommended reading?

Robert:  There is a forth coming book by my colleague, Nvesekie Konneh, ‘THE LAND OF MY FATHER’S BIRTH.” It addresses some of the cardinal reasons that led us into war. I would recommend it for everyone to read it. I think this book has the chance to get on the best seller list. It’s well written and researched.

Ralph: You are a family man. How is the family coming on?

Robert: My family is doing great. Thanks for asking. My oldest daughter just started school, at the St. Mark Catholic School, so we are very excited.

Ralph: There is a lot of talk about generational change in Liberia, who do you think will succeed the oldma?

Robert: When it comes to Liberian politics… I would say the future belongs to those that prepared for it. The youth to watch for the next presidency are: H. E. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuah, Samuel Kofi Woods, Brownie Samukai, Amara Konneh, and of course George Manneh Oppong Weah.  It’s safe to say that our next leader will come from any one of those names… but again… what do I know?

Ralph: Thank you very much Robert.

Robert: You are welcome Mr. Geeplay, and thanks for the interview.

Ralph Geeplay can be reached at akklamm@gmail.com

 

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