Cecile Emeke – Lines

The filmmaker using some of music’s greatest hits as a starting point for reflection and conversation

Filmmaker Cecile Emeke’s latest project Lines asks women to delve into some of their favourite songs and share their personal interpretation of the lyrics. The first episode of the new series shares their perspectives on tracks like Missy Elliott’s “Work it” and Mos Def’s “UMI Says”. Whether good or bad, liberating or oppressing, the film’s cast tell all. Below we speak to the London-based Jamaican British producer, writer and editor – best known for the acclaimed short film Ackee & Saltfish and her documentary series Strolling – to find out more.

How would you describe your new film Lines?

Cecile Emeke: Art is powerful and I find it really interesting to hone in on those specific moments that have moved people – whether it's a scene from a play, a painting from an exhibition, or maybe just a line in a song. Lines is a short film exploring those moments in music that have affected us in some way or another, whether good or bad, big or small, permanent or temporary. Lines is something I'm developing into a series, so the idea is that every short film would have a different theme. Think of this as a pilot and the particular theme for this "episode" of Lines is respectability politics.

How did the concept of filming feminist perspectives on songs arise?

Cecile Emeke: Growing up I used to love watching music documentaries and I still do. I specifically remember recording Michael Jackson documentaries on VHS and watching them over and over and over. So the combination of music, film and commentary has always been interesting to me and I wanted to play and experiment with those three elements in order to create something I hadn't seen before.

What were you hoping to say about the use of music to achieve gender equality/inequality?

Cecile Emeke: Generally with any topic, gender included, music is a really interesting starting point for a conversation. The spectrum of insights offered in music is huge. Some people get really honest in their music, maybe more so than they do in normal conversations. Some people are the complete opposite and everything is a facade, which is equally as interesting. The same way we dig into literature and theatre to discover interesting insights on humanity, I find doing the same with music equally as compelling and that's really what Lines is about.

What were the participants’ views on the film’s outline?

Cecile Emeke: Everyone who participated was great and really took to the concept. The green room was overflowing with interesting conversations and jokes – we all had a lot of fun shooting this.

What would you like viewers to take from the Lines?

Cecile Emeke: I think each person will take something different away from the film and that's my only intention, for it to make you feel something, whether good or bad, big or small, permanent or temporary.