Forget 'Girls': Cecile Emeke’s Witty 'Ackee & Saltfish' is the Answer

Shows like Girls and Broad City have succeeded in dominating conversations about female writers and filmmakers and seized everyone’s attention, because, don’t we all love a little schadenfreude? Struggling in "The Big Smoke" is relatable; however, it’s always felt as though the British (London, more specifically) experience was left out: enter Cecile Emeke. 

Cecile Emeke, source: Cecile Emeke Facebook Page

Cecile Emeke, source: Cecile Emeke Facebook Page

London has been getting a lot of negative press over the issue of gentrification. While some of it has occurred in a ubiquitous and confrontational way, British-Jamaican filmmaker and writer Cecile Emeke addresses such issues and others through her engaging and conversational docu-series Strolling, where she asks a multi-cultural range of Londoners about their world views.

On her website, Emeke cites the following quotation by African-American novelist Toni Morrison as inspiration applicable to writing, but also directing and music:

 

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.

Further illustrating the changing face of the city and erosion of local culture, her short film Ackee & Saltfish screened at the Rio Cinema in Dalston—where the film is set—in late 2014.

Still from 'Ackee & Saltfish' (2014), source: www.ackeesaltfish.co.uk

This year, Emeke is back with her two bubbly and inseparable characters Rachel and Olivia for Ackee & Saltfish, the web-series. Unlike her more political Strolling and the ‘continental Europe’ counterpart Flâner (French for ‘strolling’), Ackee & Saltfish focuses on the mundane.

Friends Rachel and Olivia express aloud the thoughts you whisper—or scream down the phone—to your mates on the weekend after necking too much gin, or getting too little sleep.

Vanessa Babirye (left) and Michelle Tiwo (right), still from 'Ackee & Saltfish' (2014)

Vanessa Babirye (left) and Michelle Tiwo (right), still from 'Ackee & Saltfish' (2014)

Olivia (Michelle Tiwo) is the kooky but loveable attention-hound whose musings are on-point but no one dares utter. Rachel (Vanessa Babirye) is the more laid-back, yet equally playful half who keeps them both grounded.

Verdict? We're hooked. The characters are relatable, yet complex and adequately flawed. It’s worth noting that this comedy series is one of very few to successfully meets both the Bechdel test and the Shukla test—and that’s no mean feat.

Ackee and Saltfish launched on 22 February and airs every Sunday at 5pm GMT. Subscribe to Cecile's YouTube channel to see the latest episode. You can also view the docu-series Strolling here.

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