Ayo Akingbade

Hackney, London
08 March 2022 - 08 May 2022

A cinematic love letter to her hometown – Hackney Gazette

Ayo Akingbade’s Jitterbug marks the rising London filmmaker's thirteenth short film and continues her exploration into the city’s rapidly changing landscape.

Set in Hackney at a time of rampant gentrification, Jitterbug offers a soulful portrait of teenagers coming of age just as their community is being torn apart by forces beyond their control. The film chronicles a day in the life of eighteen-year-old student Afeni Omolade, played by Amara Okereke, who lives with her parents and younger brother in a council block. Afeni is on the cusp of leaving home to realise her dream of studying History of Art at Cambridge University when unexpected news suddenly hits.

Shot on 16mm film, Akingbade tracks a rollercoaster ride of youthful hope and adult resignation, anger, and resilience as Afeni, her parents Precious and Julius, and her brother Kofo each deal with the devastating news.

The premiere of Jitterbug, with a live Q&A between Ayo Akingbade and filmmaker Andrea Luka Zimmerman, took place at Rio Cinema in Hackney on 8 March 2022. Further one-off screenings with the artist were hosted at Peckhamplex in South London and Bernie Grant Arts Center in North London throughout March 2022.

Jitterbug was exhibited at the Museum of the Home, in Hackney, from 9 March to 8 May 2022.  

Video: Teaser of Jitterbug (2022). This video is also available to watch as part of a playlist on Vimeo and YouTube

London belongs to us

An essay by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi
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London belongs to us

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi

Ayo Akingbade’s Jitterbug offers a glimpse into the daily life of Afeni, a smart teenager, and it’s her perspective that guides us through the film. There is something amiss, a sense of foreboding, difficult to shake, but we push it aside happily distracted by Afeni, content and floating through a sun-drenched corner of Hackney, East London, dressed in her school uniform, rucksack full with textbooks and dreams of becoming first in her school to attend Cambridge University. She is at ease even as the streets she’s known all her life subtly change. For Afeni this is home. Making her way to school, a runner collides with her, she is briefly surprised but remains in her reveries, walking past the upmarket coffeeshop, which is right next to the greasy spoon, that’s been there for decades serving up cooked breakfasts and home-cooked meals for lunch and tea. The familiar markers of Afeni’s Hackney remain: ethnic food shops, the barbers, the people – diverse, chaotic, the leafy green estates, bright spacious council homes built for the wellbeing of all.

Jitterbug touches upon the “regeneration” of a housing estate, seen from the perspective of one family. This is by now a familiar story: the demolition of council estates without consent or input from the people who live there, the sudden relocation of families, miles from communities they rely on, new homes built but priced beyond the reach of the average worker. Afeni’s response is the natural one, it’s why there is always a story of resistance. Where people’s homes are threatened, communities fight back.

Read the complete essay here

Image: Still from Ayo Akingbade's Jitterbug (2022).

About Ayo Akingbade

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Ayo Akingbade

Ayo Akingbade is an artist, writer, and film director born in Hackney, London. Her work addresses notions of power, urbanism, and stance.

In 2017 she received a Special Mention Award at International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and the Sonja Savić Award at the Alternative Film/Video Festival Belgrade for 'Tower XYZ' . In 2020, 'So They Say' was honoured with a Special Mention at Open City Documentary Festival.

Akingbade's work has been screened at the BFI London Film Festival, MoMa Doc Fortnight, Whitechapel Gallery, and DocLisboa. Her filmography includes Jitterbug (2022), Sukiyaki (2021), Red Soleil (2021), Fire in My Belly (2021), Deadphant (2020), Hella Trees (2020), Claudette’s Star (2019), So They Say (2019), Dear Babylon (2019), A is for Artist (2018), Street 66 (2018), Tower XYZ (2016), In Ur Eye (2015).


Images: (left) Still of Ayo Akingbade in her film Jitterbug (2022). (above) Ayo Akingbade. Photograph: Hannah Lister.

In the Artangel Collection

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Jitterbug is part of The Artangel Collection. Since its premiere at the Rio Cinema on 8th March 2022, it has been exhibited at the Museum of the Home in London.

  • Artist: Ayo Akingbade
  • Title: Jitterbug
  • Date: 2022
  • Medium: 16mm film transferred to video
  • Dimensions: variable.  
  • Duration: 23 minutes 30 seconds
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Production Credits

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Production Credits

Written and directed by Ayo Akingbade 
Produced by Artangel and Ayo Akingbade
Executive Producers – James Lingwood, Michael Morris, Cressida Day
Associate Producers – Marina Doritis and Phoebe Roberts

Editor – Taina Galis
Composer – Lolina
Sound and Foley Design – House of Noise
Director of Photography – Emma Dalesman
Production Coordinator – Sophie MacManus 

Cast (in order of appearance):
Afeni Omolade – Amara Okereke 
Precious Omolade – Doreene Blackstock 
Goldie Bah – Donna Banya 
Amma – Afi Okaidja 
Gonzo – Darryl Dale
Tacita – Xanthe Acquah-Storey
Connor – Nathaniel Powell 
Miss Dean – Victoria Lloyd 
Professor Sachs – Michael Gould
Julius Omolade – Yinka Awoni
Tyrone Brooks – Hayden McLean 
Kofo Omolade – Kenyah Sandy
Guest appearance – Elizabeth Price as herself 

Click to read the credits for the full cast and crew

Image: Production of Ayo Akingbade's Jitterbug (2022). Photograph: Mustafa Hussein.


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Who made this possible?


Jitterbug is an Artangel production.

Commissioned by Artangel and the Museum of the Home.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, Guardian Angels and The Company of Angels.