Aisha, a moving story of a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland, is out now
If you’re looking for a new film to get absorbed in this weekend, Irish filmmaker Frank Berry’s latest work Aisha is receiving rave reviews.
Starring Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright and The Crown‘s Josh O’Connor, and written and directed by Berry, it follows a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland, floundering in a maze of social services and bureaucracy.
Alone and unwilling to sacrifice her dignity to satisfy the demands of the authorities, Aisha (Wright) finds an ally in Conor (O’Connor), an employee at her residence home, a local young man with a troubled past of his own. Together they struggle to maintain their tender friendship in the face of Aisha’s increasingly dire predicament and her rapidly diminishing options. Variety described it as “Wright’s most moving performance yet”, while The Guardian said that it is “an absorbing drama given sympathy and life by two very high-calibre performers.”
It was a meaningful project for Wright, who wanted to research her role as much as possible. Speaking to Sky News, she said: “Frank [Berry] was able to introduce me to the people who he’s been communicating with for the past four or five years of him making the script and putting it together, so I got to have real conversations with women who’ve gone through similar situations as Aisha.
“I got to dive into the documentaries, dive into the research material that’s provided for me via Frank and our production company, and I just got to sit with it and allow myself to be a vessel for these stories and to feed that into the character of Aisha. Because on the page, the work is pretty much done for you and it’s on the page and it’s excellent – but it’s even more so when you’re speaking to people on a real level.”
She also commented on how playing a character fighting for dignity in Ireland’s direct provision system struck a chord for her. “In a way when I represent any human being on screen I see it as truth,” she said. “When we’re speaking to these women and we’re speaking to these young men and children who have gone through so much within the system, you realise that this story is pieced together from all their voices, but we just found a linear way to take you through that journey in the form of a film.
“But yeah, it does stay with you and it does allow you to see that your project is allowing you to give a voice to the voiceless and that’s really imperative for us on this journey.”
Aisha is in cinemas and on Sky Cinema now.