Farming is a true life story of how Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje, a young Nigerian boy was ‘farmed out’ by his biological parents to white foster parents in 1970s Tilbury, Essex. It covers the journey of a young man displaced from his cultural heritage and trying to find his identity which led to him associating with a violently racist local skinhead gang.
The movie also dramatises a brutal and moving coming-of-age story. It also shines a light on a little-known chapter in the story of race relations in Britain: the practice that led to thousands of Nigerian children like Akinnuoye-Agbaje being ‘farmed out’ to British families in that period.
Adewale had to relive some of his boyhood trauma and violence with his directorial debut in this movie. Talking about the experience, he said: “A production designer rebuilt the house to perfection and I wasn’t prepared for the well of emotions that it would evoke as I was immediately reduced to the 8 year old boy that used to hide behind the sofa…..”.
He(Adewale) also played the role of his father and saw himself through the eyes of his father.“It’s a project I couldn’t live without telling and this is what really motivated me to tell it, it was surreal to stand in my Father’s shoes and look at myself from his perspective, that was both healing and painful and enlightening”.
Kate Beckinsale who played the illiterate, emotionally abusive, racially insensitive Essex foster mother of nine, earlier said “ this is an incredibly fractured love story between mother and adopted son…..It was very different from anything else I’ve ever done because you were always aware that this was Ade’s story and some of it was incredibly upsetting. You felt very privileged to be in this incredibly vulnerable space.”
The movie also stars Nigerian, Damson Idris who plays Enitan, a central character in this film which hits on sensitive issues like racism, discrimination and touches slightly on modern-day slavery – also a part of the cast is Nollywood veteran Genevieve Nnaji who plays Agbaje’s real-life mother.