British filmmaker Remi Weekes’ debut feature, His House premiered at Sundance this January 2020.
Made for New Regency and BBC Films His House is about a young refugee couple, who after making a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town that has an unspeakable evil lurking beneath the surface. Making his directorial feature debut, screenwriter/director Remi Weekes’ film stars Sope Dirisu (Gangs of London) & Wunmi Mosaku (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them). His House has now been picked up for distribution by Netflix.
Remi directed his first short, Tickle Monster, commissioned by Film4 for Channel4 and which was accepted at SXSW Film 2017 for its US Premiere. Along with work in commercial campaigns that have garnered awards at the Cannes Advertising Festival and exhibitions worldwide from the Guggenheim Museum to the British Film Institute.
Weekes says of His House:
His House is a haunted house story about two immigrants trying to make a home in a foreign country. Unlike traditional haunted house stories where the protagonist might be able to escape, our protagonists – two displaced asylum seekers – do not have the privilege to simply leave. Rather, they are stuck having to survive within their house. This is often the case in the UK, where asylum seekers have to follow draconian rules when given accommodation. This is also often the case with trauma – you’re stuck having to find ways to survive your grief and finding ways to heal within it.
Growing up in the UK, I have always been aware of the anxieties immigrants and minorities generate. As is written in Nikesh Shukla’s book ‘Good Immigrant’, The narratives of immigrants are often flattened, fitting neatly in either victim or villain roles. Ethnic minorities often have to perform as the ‘Good Immigrant’ to survive. Making this film I wanted to step away from these social commentaries and move into a space more psychological, emotional, and personal.
Coming from a mixed background and surrounded by first-, second- and third-generation immigrants, the feeling of being unmoored, of not knowing your place in a country that often considers you – at best – a guest, or – at worst – an invader, is a familiar feeling. Seeing the dominant class spar with the narrative as if fighters in a ring made me disinterested with telling the story from any other perspective but the perspectives of the two immigrant protagonists. I wanted the focus of the film to be introspective, about them, rather than any larger commentary. The conversations within the film are the conversations that I grew up hearing, as had by my family, my friends and the people that moved in and out of my life. Being a minority in the UK, often, you tend to be torn between two places. There is one part of you that wants to assimilate and fit in and disappear. And there is also the other side of you that wants to rebel and reject the orthodoxy, to seek belonging closer to your roots. These two sides are often at war, and this battle is at the heart of the film.
I’ve always enjoyed the spectacle of cinema. The magician’s trick of throwing us into an unfamiliar world, forcing us to empathise with strangers, creating moments that unhinge reality and open up new possibilities and ideas. I’ve been enthralled by the power of cinema all my life. I’ve always wanted to do the same thing, believing that I could take the great cinematic traditions that I grew up loving, but remix them to fill them with humans that I knew. I feel the cinema I want to make is cinema that shares in its DNA the audaciousness of Hollywood and the introspection and humanity of the communities I share my world with.
His House debuts globally on 30th October only on Netflix.