Bushman (restored from 1971)

Saturday 11th May 2pm

Restored: Bushman + intro with Journey Mercies director Tomisin Adepeju

Combining drama and documentary, Bushman follows the fate of a youth, escaping from Civil War in Nigeria and arriving in California at the tail end of the 60s countercultural revolution. It’s full of cinematic innovation, no small amount of wit and fascinating period commentary.

Restored in 4K in 2022 by University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive and The Film Foundation from the original negatives. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Additional support provided by Peter Conheim, Cinema Preservation Alliance

Journey Mercies

UK 2023. Director Tomisin Adepeju. 15min. Digital

A short drama about a librarian who plans a final return to Nigeria, his birth country.

USA 1971. Director David Schickele. With Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam, Mike Slye, Elaine Featherstone. 73min. Digital 4K (restoration)

Tickets £6.50 from www.bfi.org.uk

‘Bushman’ Review: Restored Indie Gem Captures an Unsettling Collision of Real Life and Fiction
David Schickele’s rarely seen feature stars Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam as a version of himself, a Nigerian graduate student navigating the countercultural flowering and political fervor of 1968 San Francisco.

About an hour into the brief and dazzling Bushman, the central character announces, “I need a hamburger,” and then the screen goes black for a few seconds. When the movie resumes, it’s no longer a drama enlivened by a streetwise documentary sensibility, but a work of straight-up nonfiction. Relying on stills in this last stretch but maintaining the visual fluency of the preceding story, the final 10 minutes recount why director David Schickele stopped filming for a year: He was working instead on securing a release from prison for his wrongfully imprisoned leading man.


There are strong parallels between Gabriel, the onscreen outsider, and Paul Eyam Nzie Okpokam, the man who plays him. Both grew up in a Nigerian village. Like Gabriel, Okpokam was a graduate student at San Francisco State College. Schickele’s screenplay was to have ended with Gabriel being deported after falling into trouble with the law. Before he could shoot those scenes, Okpokam’s stateside adventure ended precisely that way.

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