Wrestlin' Jacob addresses the conflict between the Black Church and homosexuality, and the devastating behaviours that can emerge as a result. It is for us a tribute to two extraordinary men – the twins Lawrence Sturden and Leonard Sturden – two of Ako Mitchell's (co-writer/director) uncles. These men persevered through the challenges of being religious and gay in the hostile environs of an impoverished community in the 80's and 90's. Ako is also a distant cousin of the Reverend James Cleveland - an icon of modern gospel music - and he has taken inspiration from scandalous stories surrounding his ministry and death.
On the day he is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his East London Church, Pastor Lonnie Nelson is forced to confront his sexuality and accept responsibility for his actions when a young man and ex-member of the community returns with some catastrophic news. The film explores the repeating patterns of deception and concealment within the Black Church, and aims to perhaps add a stone onto the pathway to tolerance. It is a story of freedom and hope in the face of prejudice and resistance.
Pinhead Pictures is a small independent production company committed to diverse, provocative, thoughtful and entertaining film-making.
Chris Jarman - Pastor Lonnie
We are extremely honoured to have Chris on board as our leading man. Chris is currently starring in the multi-award winning, record-breaking 11 Olivier nominated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End after completing his show-stopping performance as General Butt 'Effing' Naked in the multi-award winning hit The Book of Mormon. Chris’s current screen credit is in the popular revival of Thunderbirds Are Go on ITV as mysterious new villain The Mechanic. His voice can also be heard as the narrator on Channel 4's cult hit Tattoo Fixers. Chris's career began in the original cast of The Lion King and it teems with highly acclaimed productions with leading performances that have seen him working alongside Patrick Stewart, Sheila Hancock, Whoopi Goldberg, Fiona Shaw, Lenny Henry, Alan Bates, Ralph Fiennes, Rowan Atkinson and directors such as Casey Nicholaw, Rupert Goold, Greg Doran, Sir Trevor Nunn, David Yates, Deborah Warner, Dominic Cooke and John Tifney.
We are equally excited about having the phenomenally talented Sheila Atim involved, as both actress and composer. Sheila has just landed back in these green pastures from New York where she was playing Ferdinand and Lucius in the infamous all-female Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Prior to this she was at the National Theatre in Les Blancs, and she completed the entire 2014-15 season with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sheila was nominated for an Off West End Award for her role in Klook's Last Stand at the Park Theatre in 2014. She is also a successful musician songwriter and composer whose credits include The Lightning Child (Shakespeare’s Globe), Ghost Town (Pilot Theatre Tour), and The Etienne Sisters (Stratford Theatre Royal).
And finally, hot from graduating from the Arts Educational School in 2015, we have Omari Douglas. Omari has not stopped, playing Godfrey in High Society at the Old Vic and Dwight in Elegies For Angels, Punks And Raging Queens at the Criterion Theatre. A tour of Hairspray followed and last summer he was in the 6 Olivier nominated Jesus Christ Superstar at Regents Park Open Air Theatre. He then went straight into Annie Get Your Gun at The Sheffield Crucible before going into rehearsals with Olivier Award Winner Sharon D. Clarke MBE in The Life at The Southwark Playhouse playing Slick, opening at the end of March 2017. Get booking before it sells out. ;)
Zara Plessard - Writer/Producer
Zara is an actress, filmmaker and co-founder of Pinhead Pictures with Ako Mitchell. Her official producing debut, Box Red, is a single-take allegorical absurdist neo-liberal-economics bashing sex comedy, which she co-wrote, performed in and produced. Since then she has produced a number of micro-shorts currently in post-production for Pinhead Pictures, working with Mari Yamamura, our DoP for Wrestlin'Jacob. As an actress she has performed in the West End and across the UK, and played the female lead in the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Grand Prix Award-winning short Courage. At present she is touched and privileged to be seen in Ditch the Label's anti-bullying music video Saving Light which is number 1 on the Beatbox Charts, and you can currently catch her live in the return of the Olivier nominated Alice's Adventures Underground at The Vaults, Waterloo.
Ako Mitchell - Writer/Director
Ako Mitchell is a filmmaker and actor. His directing debut, the short film I'm in the corner with the bluebells, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, won Best Director at the Mica Film Festival in Brazil, Best Drama at the Sunderland Short Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Southwest London International Film Festival. Ako recently won third prize at the 2016 Widening the Lens Pitch Competition at the Bristol Encounters International Short Film Festival with his pitch for Wrestlin' Jacob. Ako also co-produced the documentary film 500 Years Later, a winner at the LA Pan-African Film Festival and Black Berlin International Cinema. As an actor, Ako starred as Coalhouse Walker, Jr in the acclaimed Charing Cross Theatre production of Ragtime where he received a second Of West End Awards Best actor nomination. He played actor Lenny Henry’s brother Gabriel in Fences in London's West End. Ako also played opposite Whoopi Goldberg and Sheila Hancock in Sister Act at The London Palladium and opposite Academy Award nominee Anne Archer at the Park Theatre.
Mari Yamamura - Director of Photography
Mari has shot music videos for artists such as Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Wombats. Last year she shot her first feature Kesulat and an extract of her work on Gwynfor Y Penderfyniad was selected for the BSC New Cinematographers Night screening. Short films she has DoP'd on have been shown at various festivals including Aesthetica, LA Shorts and Cambridge. Mari's credits as a focus puller include Doctor Who, Torchwood, Casualty, Dracula, VW, Nike, IKEA, Samsung, and Stephen Hawking's Universe. Check out some of her work here: Mari's Reel
Obviously you can't make a film set in the Black Church without some sweet, soulful Gospel music. We have some of the hottest young talent creating our soundtrack. Check out the incredible Kianja here with her own version of Sometimes I feel like a motherless child:
Kianja is a ridiculoulsy talented upcoming artist who has been singing, songwriting and self-producing since the age of 14. She's nearly finished her journey atThe Brit School and is ready to take on the world! Yay! Her music is feel-filled and fresh. 'Kianja' means sunshine in Swahili and she aims to spread love and light through music. No more babbling, always best to let the music speak for itself...Listen to more of her music here: Kianja's Music
Sheila is the same as her biog above! Listen to her sing a preview for our soundtrack here: Sheila - O' Freedom
Gloria is currently taking London by storm as the maligned D'Armano brother in The Wild Party at The Other Palace, London. She is simultaneously in rehearsal with Lenny Henry in Arturo Ui at the Donmar Warehouse. She is also an upcoming singer/songwriter and you can hear her original song for our soundtrack here: Gloria - Strange Fruit
Nate is the proud Founder and Artistic Director of The West End Gospel Choir and was Musical Supervisor of the Walk in The Light Mass choir at The National Theatre celebrating 50 years Of Black Artists in The Performance Industry. He is also National Assistant Musical Supervisor for his church. Nathaniel is currently playing Barry Belson in the West End hit show Jersey Boys. Listen to him singing a preview for our soundtrack here: Nate - Lord I've Tried
Yes, we have some sizzling rewards to show our gratitude to you. Get an exclusive preview of the film, a digital download of the soundtrack, signed poster, coffee with one of the cast, be named in the credits, join us at the cast and crew screening.........hopefully we have something for everyone. But if you wish to discuss potential rewards with us please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like what you see here and decide to pledge, please please please spread the word. We only have a short amount of time to reach our target, and we can't make Wrestlin' Jacob without you! Follow us on twitter @pinheadpicture and like our Facebook page to keep up to date with #Wrestlin'Jacob and share the campaign as much as you can! Let's make this happen.
£5,000 might sound like a lot of money, but filming is surprisingly pricey, and this will only cover a THIRD of the money we need to make the film and give it life afterwards. Your money will go towards the essential production costs such as the fantastic cast and crew, camera, sound and lighting equipment.
Encounters Film Festival chose to back our film out of so many as part of Widening the Lens, a project made possible with the support of the BFI Diversity Fund. This shows they believe in the idea and also that they trust our team to pull it off, so we're confident with their backing and support we can make a film worthy of your hard earned cash. :)