Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Assistant Editor
Mobolaji Olambiwonnu was born in Pasadena, California the result of a rare Nigerian and Jamaican gene intermingling. He spent his early childhood in his father’s native Nigeria, soaking up the colorful local customs we are often bewildered by in those condescending documentaries about Africa. At age of 9 he returned to his birthplace to find himself an outsider among his fellow Pasadenites who could not understand his strange accent or the fact that he didn’t wear a loincloth.
By early high school, Olambiwonnu took steps to lower his blood pressure by shedding his accent and going by the culturally concealing nickname “Mo”. Just as he began to feel accomplished having abandoned his cultural past, he was thrust off to college where he would be encouraged once again to be African.
Despite this confusing game of cultural ping-pong, Mobolaji (formerly known as “Mo”) completed his B.A., with honors, in Communication theory at the world-renown basketball powerhouse UCLA (He still prefers soccer). Since graduating, he has owned and operated his own video production company M•pire Productions and has worked in a freelance capacity for the last ten years on various film and documentary projects. Olambiwonnu has also worked in the fields of education, economic development and campaign organizing. He feels his community-based experience is not only the conscience behind his work, but the driving force behind his filmmaking choices.
Olambiwonnu has directed seven short films and is the recipient of several awards including the prestigious Directors Guild of America Student Filmmaker Award for his masters thesis “The Visit,” which he made while attending the American Film Institute (AFI). In addition, Olambiwonnu was invited to screen his film as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers showcase at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002.
Olambiwonnu’s goal is to use cinema as a tool to share diverse cultural and political experiences, critique the superficial conditions that divide us, and accentuate the merits of shedding our prejudices. In addition to working for Robert Greenwald, he is currently working on a feature length documentary he shot in Fiji.