Dec. 05--A film that tells the Nigerian immigrant experience in America through an East County lens will have its premiere Saturday at the Maya Cinemas in Pittsburg.
Location shooting took place in the last three months of 2012 in Antioch and Pittsburg for "Still Standing," which chronicles the story of a husband, wife and their three teenage children whose pursuit of the American dream is altered when a tragedy strikes the husband. Jackie Appiah, who plays the role of the wife who copes with the tragic turn, is a well-known film star in Nollywood, a nickname for the Nigerian film industry.
The 145-minute-long feature film is directed by Michael Uadiale Jr., who grew graduated from Deer Valley High School in 2008 after his family immigrated to Antioch from Nigeria. Ogbeide Ikhile, a 36-year-old Antioch resident and Nigerian immigrant, is the film's executive producer.
The movie is about "the strength that women bring to the family in difficult times," said Ikhile, whose day job is an IT consultant.
The story line also touches on experiences that many immigrants encounter when adjusting to life in the United States.
"I can give you a list of people who pass through the same situation," he said.
The movie already has gleaned some buzz in the film world, even though it has not been released. It won the "Best Film of the Year 2013 -- Diaspora" category and was nominated for the "Best Director -- Diaspora" category for the Golden Icons Academy Movie Awards.
"It's one of the top awards. It's like the Oscars for the African film industry," Ikhile said.
Ikhile chose to have the family live in Antioch, because it was illustrative of what many immigrant families are seeking when they come to America: "They needed a place where they could raise their children in a peaceful environment," as opposed to a more urban setting such as San Francisco or New York.
Antioch locations in the movie include two well-known restaurants, Dad's Cafe and Humphrey's, along with a rough neighborhood where the family later moves after adversity strikes. There are also shots of the hillsides of Pittsburg and the San Marco development.
"That's where the nice homes are. We needed to tell an upper-class thing," to show the family striving to have a better life, Ikhile said.
Uadiale got the directing job after meeting with Ikhile, a family friend.
"(Ikhile) had the vision for the (movie). He gave me a screenplay to read and I read it, and said 'this is beautiful,'" said Uadiale, who first picked up a still camera when he was 11 years old and fell in love with telling visual stories. He moved to Toronto when he was 18 to gain experience in the city's thriving filmmaking industry.
Some of the Antioch scenes were shot on the basketball court at Deer Valley High in Antioch. "I knew I had to shoot at Deer Valley," Uadiale said. "I was in their film class, so that's home to me."
But don't look for the Deer Valley name in the film. Uadiale said he decided not to get clearances to show the name, because of the bureaucracy that would be involved to do so.
While "Still Standing" tells the story of an immigrant family, it also touches on universal themes that can apply to anyone, Uadiale said. "A mother in the Bay Area could say, 'this could be me,'" he said.
Saturday's premiere starts at 6 p.m. at Maya Cinemas, 4085 Century Blvd., Pittsburg. Tickets are $15 and available at www.eventbrite.com or at the door.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.
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