// PRIVATE PREVIEW of Ozwald Boateng´s biographical film A Man´s Story at London College of Fashion, 23rd February 2012 //
Here´s some stuff I remember …
- The preview allured London College of Fashion students and staff with a great introduction and all the ingredients that keep our attention on track: love, lies, truth and controversy.
- The audience applauded and praised the film, which showcases Boateng´s success story and exposes details of the renowned designer´s private life.
- The film is shot in an enticing, candid, documentary style, mixed with original catwalk footage and extracts of home video as well as parts of an animated comic illustration Boateng had made for Givenchy.
- As the story continues, questions begin to surface about whether or not this fashion film docu-feature is really an independent work of director Varon Bonicos. It seems more like ‘The King of Savile Row’ himself guiding the audience through an appealing condensation of his very own success story: the tale of a highly talented, yet tormented, larger-than-life fashion hero who, as a true artist, inevitably seems to become a victim of his own obsession to create and is finally forced to pay the price: his family, in the form of his wife and children.
- Meeting the classical dramaturgy of the ‘three act structure’, Boateng had Varon Bonicos following him with a camera from 1998 to the present day, apparently without any distance, in order to access the most intimate moments of the designer´s life. This includes the break-up phone call with his ex-wife, at full volume, wherein she hangs up on him, saying: “I wish I would have never met you”. Like in any classic film moment comparable to this one, the tortured man turns to work, which provides him with the opportunity to push his professional boundaries even more.
- Not only do we see a hero but we also see a victim, betrayed by his beloved wife, as well as his suffering caused by the disconnection from his children. Of course Boateng is not the sort of man who enjoys suffering, so he actively seeks for solutions, ironically, or shall we say typically, in the field that brought him into his situation.
- However, obstacles - the ones in the film as well as those in real life - are there to be solved and there is no doubt that this is one of the good messages from Boateng´s film. He mentions that his life, as well as the film, is about experience and we can be sure that he will continue to live up to his standard.
- The film screening was followed by an exciting Q+A session with a super confident Boateng, who came to receive feedback and to answer some of the audience´s questions. He proudly entered the screening room, enjoying the audience´s tremendous applause.
- He lost a little bit of his self-composure for a moment, when he was confronted by a student questioning why her email she had sent to him a year ago remains unreplied until this day. After a pause, wherein the audience applauded and laughed, he asked her: “Did you mention that you had met me before?” She said: “Yes, of course, I did. Boateng, I am watching you!”
- As the students missed the chance to ask the Teen Vogue-type questions, a LCF course director took over: “Are you looking for a new wife now?” People were screaming. Boateng played clever, taking it as another opportunity to prove that he is quick at repartee: “My mum has taken censorship on all my future activities.”
- “Film is a very convenient tool to communicate emotion in a very short period of time,” Boateng said after the screening. With A Man´s Story, he definitely manages to create a number of different emotions, underlining that “what people see in this film is a man´s journey and my role in it is just to show you that journey.”
- The response from the audience showed that he manages to inspire like-minded people who relate to him and his urge to create, no matter what.
- Seemingly by accident, he also opens an interesting discussion on the approach towards documentary filmmaking, its techniques and the morality of action within the genre as a whole.
- It´s nothing new, that the winners are the ones who write history. Ozwald Boateng is just another example, but he is also an inspiring example. “Every dream has a price” is the subline of the piece, which can also be seen as an invitation to ask ourselves:
What is my dream and what price am I willing to pay?
Words and image by Saskia Reis