Zemi is an explosive, dynamic and visceral short that explores identity and spirituality through magic realism, horror and of course - BANGING TUNES!
During his first international tour, Zemi an up-and-coming Dominican rapper, faces the age-old battle between creative integrity and encompassing ambition.
While external voices challenge his values, Zemi calls upon a powerful spirit to defend his veracity.
Based in truth and ladened with taboo, Zemi is an explosive, dynamic and visceral short that explores identity and spirituality through magic realism, horror and, of course, BANGING TUNES!
A BIG HELLO AGAIN FROM TEAM ZEMI!
Welcome back to all of our previous donators and a huge HELLO to all new sponsors and donators - and those who are here for a cheeky little gander!
Thank you for visiting our Greenlit page! We are so glad to have you on this journey with us, and would like to share some exciting news...
We are about to embark on our Second Unit Shoot!
With the funds we raised in pre production we were able to foot all upfront costs, pay the asking price to our incredible venue, Studio 9294, ensure our crew were suitably fed and watered through our an incredibly HOT shoot and get the ball rolling on ensuring our fantastic team are paid efficiently.
This project is a labour of love for all of us involved. For us collaboration is what makes film such a special art form and we were so humbled and excited by the sheer commitment and dedication shown on set by our team of talented, innovative, and passionate filmmakers we now call family.
We are big believers in that all creatives and freelancers should be paid fairly and on time! That is what we promised our crew and are firmly set on raising enough funds to follow this through. No matter the scale of the production.
Unfortunately, just seventeen hour before our first day on set Zemi himself tested positive to Covid-19.
The health and safety of our cast and crew was, and remains, paramount to us all at Team Zemi.
It was therefore imperative to us that all of our crew be notified ASAP and our production be postponed for a week until Zemi was free from Covid and our crew were no longer at risk.
However, protecting the health of our cast and crew came at a major cost to the production.
But we know that ones health is not gamble to take.
So with sheer grit, determination and of course, YOU on board, we believe we can raise the additional £7k required to cover all of the additional incurred production costs and ensure all of our crew are paid on time.
OUR PLEDGE TO YOU!
Our pledge to you is that not only will we keep you up to date with the progression of Zemi but we will also update you as to exactly where your generous donations have helped. This also includes our promise that our crew will be paid fairly and on time.
All pledges and donations will be gratefully received and an area to do so is located to the top right of this page, immediately under the current amount raised. We understand the current financial climate may make donating hard for a lot of people but we are grateful for any amount you may be able to afford. Every pound means the world to us and goes a long way in ensuring our team are looked after efficiently.
And failing that please feel free to share this page with others. Building a supportive community is also of the highest value to us!
WHY THIS STORY?
This is a story about identity. We were inspired by some of the life’s big questions but we certainly do not intend to answer them.
Instead, we want to spark-up conversations regarding spirituality and artistic expression as paths to uncover our place in a self-centred, money-orientated world. Our goal is to invite people to reflect on the implications of having (or lacking) a voice.
A BRIEF WORD
But answers are heard best 'from the horse's mouth' as they say. So, let's hear what our writer and director have to say for themselves;
(PSSSST...it's a video)
BUT...WHAT IS A ZEMI?
Among the Taíno people of the Caribbean, a zemi or cemi was a deity or ancestral spirit, and a sculptural object housing the spirit (examples shown below).
Statement from the Writer
This is film about a clash between self-discovery and the socioeconomic structures that merchandise and profit from the self. Which power dynamics come into play in the process of individuation? What does it mean to be who I am? To what extent do my beliefs, culture and history define me?
These are some of the questions I've been asking myself for some time. I probably will never reach an absolute answer, however, both spirituality and music lay the foundations to explore them through both a postcolonial and postmodernist lens. Afrodominican traditional rhythms like Palos and contemporary Dembow bangers might bring us more reflections than expected about our past, present and future. And consequently, about ourselves.
Víctor Arcturus Estrella
WHO ARE OUR CHARACTERS?
Our central character is inspired by many Dominican rappers, examples shown below. He is a devotee to Belié Belcán and Papá Candelo, two of the main spirits of the 21 divisions, an Afro-Caribbean spiritual tradition.
He grew up in an underprivileged community, and like many young Dominicans in similar circumstances, saw music as a way out of poverty. He has made an oath with spirits who granted him protection and success. He developed an online following across the globe and was offered the opportunity to travel to the UK for his first European tour. He is suspicious of the people who are in charge of this tour and managing his career.
Mauser is the venue's MC: a passionate, explosive, potentially violent man in his mid 20s. His body is a canvas of tattoos and he wears an excess of jewellery and piercings.
He discovered Zemi’s music online and immediately saw potential in him. He convinced Kalei, Metanoia's manager, to pay to bring Zemi to the UK, seeing Zemi’s talent as a route to success.
Fray is a washed up semi-successful singer/songwriter who has sunk all of his money into running a music venue.
He met his wife Kalei at a gig in the late 2000s and they married soon after. Together they run the venue. He clings onto the past, refusing to accept his reality and has developed a severe drink problem.
He is crypic, pessimistic and a music purist. Fray is vocal in his disdain for the musical direction his wife is taking his venue.
Kalei is a former raver, now in her late 30s, who has taken over as manager of the venue after her husband’s financial mishandlings left it on the brink of bankruptcy.
She is direct and driven. The survival of the venue is her no.1 priority. She was convinced by MC Mauser into paying for the rapper’s travel to the UK, mirroring the belief that Zemi could be key to the venue’s survival.
She is as colourful as the venue itself and is obsessed with New Age spiritual practices. In her eyes, meeting Zemi was not a mere coincidence but a gift from the universe.
MEET THE TEAM
Víctor Arcturus Estrella - Writer / Zemi
FUN FACT: Victor aka BICtor has written all the original music for the film and has the best merengue hips this side of the Atlantic
Víctor Arcturus Estrella is a Dominican actor, writer, rapper and interdisciplinary artist. As a member of Teatro Utopía (DR based theatre company), he has devised and performed plays that have been shown at national and international theatre festivals. Short films he has starred in have screened at festivals such as New Orleans Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival and Outfest.
His short stories appear in various anthologies and have won multiple literary awards. He was a member of La Ñapa, an experimental hip-hop collective characterised for their experimentation with Afro-Caribbean rhythms and cutting socio-political criticism.
Dominic Crane - Director / Mauser
FUN FACT: Dom is a low key tech genius and photographer and is responsible for our promo images (NB don't ask him about his football chants)
Dominic is an actor and filmmaker from Suffolk, England. His career started in theatre, where he had major roles in shows produced by the New Wolsey Theatre and the Seckford Theatre company.
After graduating from The University of York in 2019, Dominic started his own videography business, making corporate videos for businesses around Suffolk. In 2020 he directed his first short film.
It was during this time that he also began acting for screen, taking on roles in several independent UK short and feature films. In 2021 he moved to London to study acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Emir Ćatović - Production Designer / Fray
FUN FACT: Once a mysterious long-haired biker, Ćatović has recently rid himself of his luscious locks and can technically be regarded as being hidden in plain sight
Emir Ćatović was born in 1988 in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro. He began his formal training at the Academic of Dramatic Arts in Cetinje, graduating in 2011.
Emir is permanent member of the ensamble of City Theatre in Podgorica, Montenegro. Besides City Theatre in Podgorica, Emir is also performing in other theatres in Montenegro, as well as in Belgrade (Serbia).
Emir’s filmography includes roles in several TV Series in Serbia and Croatia, as well as short films like Tranquility of Blood (by Senad Šahmanović), which has been awarded internationally. He also performed in Gorčilo and Diamond of Boyana, a movie and a TV Series (respectivly) directed by Milan Karadžić.
Libby Walker - Producer / Kalei
FUN FACT: Libby hails from the same town as director Ridley Scott (alreet Riddaz?), we're hoping he donates.
Libby Walker is a London based, Geordie raised actress and producer. She began her career at a young age as a singer, dancer and actress before graduating from the London Studio Centre.
Libby’s career spans all mediums of entertainment including; film, television, stage and radio. She even enjoyed brief success in the music industry as a member of an all female pop group (I mean, hey, we all have a past...).
Libby can be seen in cinemas this September as ‘Becky’ in Fisherman’s Friends: One and All alongside Maggie Steed, Joshua McGuire, RCSSD alumni James Purefoy and fellow Geordie, Dave Johns.
Eduardo Baldera is a music producer and composer based in Santiago, in the Dominican Republic. He is the producer of Martox, a multi-genre music duo that have caught the attention of listeners across the DR, Mexico and Colombia. Outside of his own music, Eduardo has be comissioned to produced tracks for a variety of use-cases including commercially for TV.
THE BIGGEST THANKS TO YOU!
We cannot say enough how grateful we are for every single donation we have received and continue to receive. Every single penny donated really helps us to ensure all costs are met directly and on time! Protecting our fellow creatives is vitally important to us, so thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.
Look how happy you have made this motley crew!
BRAND NEW PLEDGES AND EXCLUSIVE UPDATES!
If you are yet to pledge, are considering donating or would like to donate again we have added to our rewards section at the top to receive EXCLUSIVE BTS (that's 'behind the scenes' to showbiz folk), PRODUCTION STILLS and have the chance to view teasers and trailers BEFORE ANYONE ELSE!
HERE IS A SNEAK PEAK JUST FOR YOU!
All donations can be made at the top right of this page! Don't miss out!