On photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu

Written by Michael A. Gonzales

“Where I come from people worked, they did real jobs,” laughs Nigerian filmmaker and photographer Andrew Dosunmu.

Dressed in stylish plaid pants, gray long-sleeved shirt and a brown felt hat, he lounges in the warmth of a SoHo coffee shop a month before his much-anticipated feature debut Restless City premieres at Sundance Film Festival.

Selected for the festival’s innovative and original work in low and no-budget filmmaking category, Restless City starring Tony Okungbowa, the dj from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, already has a major buzz. “The genesis of Restless City was born out of my frustration with trying to make another film (Mother of George) that I was having problems getting financed,” Dosunmu explains. “I got tired of waiting for things to happen. My thought was, ‘I’m a filmmaker, I should be making films.’ I just wanted to create something.”

Teaming up with friend and screenwriter Eugene M. Gussenhoven, the pair set out to tell a different kind of immigrant story. “Living in Harlem, these characters are young adults who come to New York from Africa to get theirs. America is where dreams are made, but New York City is where Run-DMC was born.”

Dosunmu, who directed the award-winning documentary Hot Irons about competitive hair styling in the inner city in 1999, insists that Restless City, the story of an African immigrant surviving on the fringes of New York City is not autobiographical, but his life experiences have clearly left him with an understanding of the do-it-yourself aesthetic that many New York newcomers must adopt to be successful in the city of ambition.“In this film, I try to explore the consequences of displacement,” he explains. “There can be such a restlessness in this metropolis, because it’s a constant hustle just to provide and survive.”

In 1994, when I first met Dosunmu, the former design assistant for Yves Saint Laurent in Paris had come to Atlanta styling Public Enemy for a Vibe magazine article penned by Kevin Powell. Grinning, he says, “I remember that day; I put Flavor Flav in a cool plastic raincoat. I’ve always loved images and in the beginning of my career styling was the closest I could get to photography.”

Between sips of coffee, Dosunmu says, “Fashion got me into shooting pictures. Although I am a self-taught photographer, when I was styling, I worked with some great ones that I learned from; they were inspiring.”

For the rest of this story, go to: http://aleim.com/andrew-dosunmu