Natasha Dack-Ojumu is a British film producer who co-founded Tigerlily Films 15 years ago alongside Nikki Parrott. Tigerlily has a busy winter ahead as The Lovers And The Despot premieres at Sundance then heads to Berlin, where the company also screens Remainder and The Ones Below.
What’s your connection to the British Council?
It goes back a long way to when I was studying film at the Royal College of Art, and the British Council promoted the short films I produced at various international film festivals, and sometimes supported me travelling to them (see more on the short film travel grant fund here). We also worked on a music and film touring project entitled Sensurround in the early 2000s with the British Council, which promoted the work of British DJs, club culture, graffiti artists, graphic designers and photographers to the rest of the world. Cut to many years later and most recently we've been working with the British Council's festival selector screenings programme (more info here) to show our recent feature films at Tigerlily (The Lovers and the Despot, Remainder and The Ones Below), which has resulted in Sundance selection for The Lovers and the Despot, and Berlin selections in the Panorama section for all three titles.
What has been your career high so far?
Dreaming up Bowiefest (a sell out weekend of films featuring David Bowie and related talks and parties which took place at the ICA back in 2012) and organising it with Oli Harbottle was a personal highlight. Winning the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival for She, A Chinese (directed by Xiaolu Guo), a very low-budget feature film shot under the radar in China, was unexpected and very gratifying. Meeting Tommie Smith and the other amazing Olympic athletes who took a stand against the racism they encountered both in professional sport and their everyday lives by protesting at the 1968 Mexican Olympics, for a documentary I produced (Black Power Salute), was also a highlight.
What was your first job in the film industry?
A runner of course!
What's a key piece of advice you’d give to someone starting off in film making?
Have confidence in yourself.
What is your favourite British film? Why?
It has to be A Matter of Life and Death by Powell and Pressburger simply for the sheer inventiveness of it. A metaphysical love story that explores notions of afterlife and of time, all without CGI! I even made my 11-year-old son, whose favourite film is Rush Hour 2, watch it last year and he thought t was 'quite good'.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski. Every single choice made in that film was the right one. Flawless. Also Hoop Dreams and The Thin Blue Line are benchmark documentaries for me.
What’s the first film you remember seeing?
Chancing across Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo one night on Channel Four back in the '80s before foreign language films were ghettoised into the graveyard slot. I remember watching it on a small black and white telly perched on a chair in my bedroom and being totally captivated by this insane story.
What’s your favourite line or scene from a film? Why?
The scene in The Piano where Harvey Keitel is lying under the piano while Holly Hunter is playing it, and he puts his finger in the hole in the leg of her thick wool stockings. Jane Campion can really create an incredibly charged atmosphere in her films. I also love the energy and statement of the opening sequence of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, with Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power." Sometimes I'll just go and find that on YouTube and watch that sequence again.
Favourite screen kiss?
Pick any kiss from any 1980s John Hughes teen film - Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, etc - I probably watched those films to work out how to do it.
Who would play you in the film about your life? Why?
If we were doing this questionnaire 70 years ago I would say Kathleen Byron. My husband said Rachel Weisz but he's just being nice.