MMIRI: Origin Stories

65 3Arts supporters
$5,752 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on December 03, 2018
    • 115% contributed

MMIRI: Origin Stories is a short experimental film that offers a fresh interpretation of the creation story, drawing on traditional West African tales and a contemporary fantastical imagination. Storytelling and image-making have always been central components to who I am. This project is an exciting and ambitious opportunity for me to do both. “Mmiri” is the Igbo-Nigerian word for water—the language of my father’s tribe. Amongst African people, water is considered a vital life-force which is a conduit for the shaping of words, and therefore believed to be responsible for much of the magic we witness and experience throughout the visible world. In creating this film I am reconnecting with a part of myself—the storyteller—who has been thirsty for revival for a very long time. Working in collaboration with filmmaker, Devin Cain, this film will powerfully engage narratives that address African and African-American histories and mythologies connected to water by mapping together the creation stories originating from West Africa, and retelling the stories of the legacy of Ibo Landing, Maroon societies, the history of the indigo plant, the uses and functions of nsibidi scribe, and so much more.

About This Project

My earliest memories when I found myself happiest as a child were activated by a fascinating intoxication with writing, sharing, and depicting words. As soon as I could pick up a pen by the age of two, I was copying letters in the insides of books, drafting non-sensical text on my parents’ outdated typewriter, and borrowing legal-pad paper from my grandmother’s belongings to scheme up my own narratives and illustrations. These documents often told the story of my imaginative adventures with my sister or my peers out in the world. Once completed, they would eventually become offerings that I would gift back to my loved ones, usually other family members, teachers, or friends.

Looking back, I understand now that these activities were the very beginnings of my personal self-authoring—an ongoing desire to leave behind a trail of stories and experienced connections so that others, through the encounter with it, may be encouraged to do the same. To that degree, creating this film with my colleague and spiritual partner-in-crime, Devin Cain, feels like a natural crossover.

In the film, we will be introduced to African and African-American histories and mythologies through an intergenerational conversation between a paternal grandmother Mama Zee and her two grandchildren—Grace and Malachi—in present-day Chicago. After a frustrating week of disagreements, the two children are dropped off by their father, who turns to Mama Zee to help guide Grace and Malachi to a closer bond. In the tradition of her culture, Mama Zee shares with them stories of the family’s lineage and the old way of the ancestors. Her storytelling takes us through a captivating journey of the children’s imagination as they both negotiate their relationship to the past and their connectivity to one another.

Unlike Grace and Malachi, more than 6,000 miles and a giant body of water separated me from the experience of receiving these types of stories from my grandparents on my father’s side in Nigeria. While I am extremely grateful for the matriarchs on my mother’s side who helped raised me and my sister, it would be a huge disservice to my own story if I neglected to acknowledge the darkness I carried within me due to this lack of access to familial and ancestral stories from this region of the world. I know that this inner tension with cultural histories and lineages is one that is shared amongst many and I am eager to unite this work with others.

By donating to this campaign, you are extending that legacy of storytelling and creating a bridge for this work to connect with individuals who, like me, want to see these conversations about African diasporic histories in the United States amplified and expanded even further. The funds raised from this campaign will directly support 60% of the artist fees of the film crew, technical personnel, materials, supplies, space rental, and equipment rental. The process of research and development for this film has been two years in the making. Devin and I could not be more thrilled for this moment. Your contributions for this campaign are greatly appreciated and we thank you for your consideration of this project.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $15
    Special thank you ($15.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $30
    Above + postcard signed and designed by Alexandria Eregbu and Devin Cain ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above + hand-sewn wallet from the Finding Ijeoma Studio, courtesy of Alexandria Eregbu ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75
    Above + signed artwork courtesy of Alexandria Eregbu ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above + "MMIRI: Origin Stories" audio & music mixtape, and an indigo-dyed traveling tote bag from the Finding Ijeoma Studio ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above + an invitation to a private film screening, Executive Producer credit in the film, and a signed copy of the script courtesy of the artists Alexandria Eregbu & Devin Cain ($100.00 is tax deductible.)

Alexandria Eregbu

Allstate Awardee

Alexandria Eregbu is an independent curator and teaching artist whose practice spans across art, music, storytelling, education, and justice in order to consider and produce forums that dignify the humanities. 

As a self-prescribed ‘art-thropologist,’ Alexandria is most invested in acknowledging …

View Alexandria Eregbu's profile
  • No updates yet, stay tuned!
    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Angelique Power

    • Cauleen Smith

    • Terri Kapsalis

    • Valerie Carr

    • Grace Lul

    • Emily Green

    • Lauren Ash

    • Amanda Williams

    • Tempestt Hazel

    • Tracye Matthews

    • Obinna Eregbu

    • Tosin Alagun

    • Monika Szewczyk

    • Folayemi Wilson

    • Candida Alvarez

    • Kimi Kitada

    • Janine Mileaf

    • Emily Green

    • Jennifer reeder

    • Ross Jordan

    • Aymar Jean

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • mark jeffery

    • caroline picard

    • Norman Teague

    • Abbey Odunlami

    • Han Service-Rodriguez

    • Lisa Dent

    • Yaw Agyeman

    • Karsten Lund

    • Jeannette Tremblay

    • Aisha Kinslow

    • Sadie Todd

    • Carrol Reese

    • Renee Rodriguez

    • Raquel Sharp

    • Hilesh Patel

    • Kathy Harrison

    • Risa Puleo

    • Chelsea Frazier

    • Tanisha Guterz

    • danny orendorff

    • Nathan Jarvis

    • Emily Hanna

    • stephen flemister

    • zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o'neal

    • Anonymous Supporter

    • Toye Adeyemo

    • Kalmia Strong

    • Calid Bowen

    • Lin Hixson

    • La'Dweena Smith

    • Daniel Giles

    • Anaïs Duplan

    • Claire Ashley

    • Jordan Shelton

    • Joshua Chambers-Letson

    • Chimille Dillard

    • lisa vinebaum

    • Octavia Sansing-Rhodes

    • Kim Johnson

    • Susan Young

    • Juanita Johnson

    • Sharon Cail

make it work


3AP Presenting Partner:

  Joyce Logo

 Additional support provided by: 

Department of Cultural Affairs logo  Illinois Arts Council