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Meji Alabi and Jimi Adesanya Discuss ‘Water and Garri’ Debut and Unbound Studios’ Future

Discover insights from Jimi Adesanya and Meji Alabi on the making of 'Water and Garri,' a new film by Unbound Studios and Everything Savage, now streaming on Prime Video. Learn about Tiwa Savage's acting debut and the vision behind this compelling African story.

On May 10, 2024, the much-anticipated movie ‘Water and Garri’ was released on Prime Video. Featuring household names such as Mike Afolarin and Jemima Osunde, fans were particularly eager for the acting debut of Afrobeats star Tiwa Savage. In collaboration with Unbound Studios and its subsidiary, JM Films, Savage’s company, Everything Savage, was able to bring to life her vision of making a film to promote her 2021 EP of the same title.

‘Water and Garri’ follows the story of Aisha, a driven and successful fashion designer in the United States who returns to her hometown after a decade away following the loss of a family member. She quickly realises that home is not as she left it and must now contend with increased violence, reuniting with old friends, and a past love. Aisha navigates through a complex web of emotions, confronting the guilt and scars of her past and learning to heal and move forward in the present.

Nollywire had a sit-down with Unbound Studios executives Jimi Adesanya and Meji Alabi. Jimi Adesanya has had many successes as a producer, most notably with his productions of ‘Voices Rising: The Music of Wakanda Forever’ (2023) and ‘Black is King’ (2020). Meji Alabi is a renowned Grammy Award-winning director. Although making his directorial film debut with ‘Water and Garri,’ Meji has worked with major brands across the world, including Guinness, KFC, and Toyota. He has also directed music videos for artists such as Wizkid, Davido, and Stormzy.

As ‘global locals’ who have experienced life both inside and outside Nigeria, both men share a vision of telling African stories in a way that resonates with all Africans, both at home and abroad. “For us, when we wanted to do our first film, it was important to present it in the best way possible—you know, in the way that we would want to see it. And, you know, with our communities that we’ve fostered, and the story itself has been a part of connectivity to each and every one really, you know, it’s not just about an African and unknown; it’s actually for Africans in the diaspora, Africans around the world,” Jimi Adesanya tells Nollywire.

Meji Alabi was particularly focused on ensuring that there was no loss of quality in the production of the movie compared to his previous work while still working within budget. He tells Nollywire, “As a director, and I think for us as JM Films, we just want to create quality. Whatever we do, anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

The quality of Nigerian movies has significantly increased over the past decade and has gained collaborations with global companies like Netflix and Prime Video. To maintain this growth, Nigerians in the industry, both at home and in the diaspora, need to invest in local stories. Speaking on achieving this with ‘Water and Garri,’ Jimi tells Nollywire, “Coming back home is also important because we’re driving the narrative into the continent, driving the flow of confidence, driving the flow of diaspora, and driving the flow of investments. We put our money where our mouth was for this project—you know, ourselves as Unbound, and also Tiwa and Everything Savage. So it’s an important journey for us to continue to travel, continue to go outwards—but also continue to return inwards.”

‘Water and Garri’ is more than just a promotional film off a musical album; it’s a film that tells African stories through the lens of Africans. It’s a testament to the fact that Africans, both at home and in the diaspora, regardless of differences in experiences, can relate to African stories.

‘Water and Garri’ is now available on Prime Video.

>>> Watch trailer and see more details about titles from this story: Water and Garri
>>> Learn more about the people mentioned in this story: JM Films, Unbound Studios, Jimi Adesanya, Meji Alabi
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