15 Apr 2022
Kemi Lofinmakin, Stephen Odubola, Malcolm Kamulete, Hope Ikpotu Jnr
Pastor Mimi Asher is a legend. She selflessly brings gang members into their home and rehabilitates them, steering them away from a life of violence. Operating on the Myatts Housing Estate in 2000s, Pastor Mimi transformed the lives of many young, black men in Lambeth, where the crime rate continues to be 10% higher than London’s average. Using her Christian faith and spreading the word of God, Pastor Mimi’s impact cannot be understated, and therefore ‘Fields’, a short biopic of sorts is a must-watch.
One night, Mimi wakes up at 1AM, having a premonition that her son will suffer a terrible tragedy. In these first ten seconds the directorial skill of Charlene Wango is apparent - creating an unsettling and deeply disturbing atmosphere immediately. The first ten seconds also demonstrate Kemi Lofinmakin’s astonishing acting ability - immediately connecting Pastor Mimi with us through the steady assured tone of voice, which breaks into cries of passion whenever she sense danger for any of the troubled youths in her neighbourhood.
Although Lofinmakin doesn’t particularly resemble Pastor Mimi in terms of appearance, that is instantly forgotten as you become taken in by this force of a performance, which oozes class every moment she’s on screen. The supporting cast of Stephen Odubola, Malcolm Kamulete and Hope Ikpoku Jnr are all impressive too, each playing their characters well. Fans of ‘Blue Story’ and ‘Top Boy’ will be intrigued to see a raft of actors in the two appear here, with all of the cast having been involved in either of the aforementioned projects in some way. With Malcolm Kamulete and Hope Ikpoku Jnr we get the Ra’Nell - Aaron link up we never knew we needed.
At times the film does suffer from some extremely forced and unrealistic dialogue - one conversation in particular between Pastor Mimi and a young woman is almost unbearable, thankfully it doesn’t last too long. However, that is by and large the films only drawback, an incredibly impressive feat from a directorial short debut.
The film focuses on that glimmer of light in the darkness, the one beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak environment of poverty and violence. Wango’s camera knows this, and guides us towards that light, so that by the end we are gravitating towards Pastor Mimi in a manner not entirely of our own doing. The message is simple - many of London’s young, black men are forced into a life of crime which leads them to an early grave, what are you doing to stop it? How can it be right that the onus is on one woman to carry out what she calls ‘God’s promise’ to save them all? Surely we can all do better.
It would be hard for Charlene Wango to do much better with ‘Fields’, a short which undoubtedly deserves a feature length adaptation. A few torrid pieces of dialogue aside, this is a staggering piece of work from the director and cast alike - in particular Kemi Lofinmakin who is outstanding as the enigmatic Pastor Mimi. Most importantly, it’s a short which does Pastor Mimi justice and tells the story of a true hero that doesn’t get the recognition from the wider world that she deserves.