Interview with ‘Women of the market’ Director Tavie

On May 26th 2021 Netflix announced the winners of their inaugural ‘Documentary Talent Fund’. One of the winners was Tavie Tiffany Agama.  Beverley Rosa caught up with Tavie to discuss her documentary ‘Women of the market’, the journey & the future. 

B: So, Tavie how are you feeling this morning?

T: I am feeling good this morning. I am excited to be here to chat with you

B: How did you hear about the Netflix Documentary Talent Fund?

T: I was hearing about it everywhere. It was on social media; my friends were sending it to me. I had just done a content production course with a non-profit organisation called ‘A New Direction’ and they had it on their website as well. It was literally everywhere it felt like a sign like I had to apply.

B: What inspired you to do a film about markets?

T: Markets and market women in particular have always been special to me. They hold a special place in my heart. I grew up visiting markets, me and my mum would go every week to buy ingredients for Nigerian dishes even get fabric for traditional Nigerian clothing. The market itself always felt like this place that connected me to Nigeria, my home. It always felt special to me. The market women in particular, when you go there, it’s the experience they create in their shop or store by speaking in their language to their customers, or there might be Nigerian music playing. You feel like you’ve stepped into Nigeria almost. They themselves built that connection for me so they’ve been special to me for a long time so I wanted to celebrate them.

B: What was it about these women did you want to explore?

T: What I wanted to celebrate and show the world was how hard working they are and how rare they are. When you think of market traders you usually think of a man. It is a male dominated area but they are there and thriving. Most of them in a country that is not their home country but they’re here. I wanted to show their entrepreneurial spirit.

B: Do you see yourself in these women?

T: Do I see myself in them? In some ways yes and in other ways it’s like an aspiration, I aspire to be like them. Like Ameya in the film, she speaks about how excited she is to go to work. I aspire to be like her. I think everyone should aspire to look at life in the way they do…. they have so much optimism.

B: How was the journey?

T: It was an interesting journey getting everyone involved. It took a while because I wanted to take my time with it and get the right people involved and every market you go to is full of so many characters. It is not hard finding great characters but what is hard is finding women that are happy to be involved. This is because they are incredibly humble women, they are not the kind of people that would jump to be in front of the camera. For some of them it took a few visits back to the market to speak to them a few times. To explain what the goal of the film is and why we want to celebrate them. So, some of the women at first didn’t realise why we wanted to celebrate them. We took our time with it. I’m glad we were able to build relationships with them I think it is important to have trust between the people in front of the camera and behind the camera. You can see it on screen.

B: How did you assemble your team?

T: Some of the people I already knew, a lot of them were from the course I had recently done and the others were recommendations from people. If we struggled to find people then Netflix were there to help out.

B: How has reception been since the release? 

T: It has been lovely. My favourite kind of reception is when I speak to people who are like me that grew up visiting the markets and they recognise the markets or it reminds them of the markets they grew up going to. When they see themselves in the film that’s my favourite reception. That was the aim, obviously I wanted to celebrate the women but also celebrate that feeling, that experience that you get going to the market.

B: Why did you choose to be behind the camera?

T: I am like the women of the market in the sense that I don’t really like being in front of the camera. But I have always been passionate about story telling. Before film making, I used to write. I also wrote songs in the past. Moving onto visual story telling was the next step.

B: What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? 

T: Yeah, so right now I am working on another documentary. About celebrating young black fathers and their relationship with their sons. Showcasing their love, joy and softness which is something that we rarely see on screen.

You can watch ‘Women of the market’ Here 

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