Who said winter has to be bleak? Certainly not poet/director Caleb Femi who was commissioned to write and direct a short festive film for international clothing and handbag brand Mulberry, focussing on Christmas as the season of light.
A departure from his more overtly autobiographical work, Femi is known for giving a nuanced perspective on Black British London life, challenging the often misunderstood environment of his youth.
Yet the short film still holds onto Femi’ artistic voice. His morals and his experiences are central to its mood and tone giving way to a film rooted in empathy, compassion and the spirit of Christmas. The film embodies the spirit of this year’s Mulberry Lights campaign and uses a light installation and community togetherness to drive home Mulberry’s brand values.
The relationship between light and darkness is a recurring theme in Femi’s work. Using prose and poetry to build a style filled with surreal and dreamlike elements. Often using it to deconstruct stereotypes about working class and Black London youth. Driving positivity through his work referencing light and optimism as visual and spiritual signifiers.
Embodying the spirit of giving, Femi himself plays a starring role in a turn on traditional Santa Claus – the gift giving man in red with a Mulberry makeover. His style is a unique cross between a swagger filled artful dodger type, and a high-fashion streetwear hype-beast.
Mulberry is ‘bussing a whine & a two step’ into the holiday season, with Femi who plays the Black Santa we never knew we desperately needed. Driving home a focus on family, warmth and togetherness.
Laura Butler, recent graduate of Pure Maths from Imperial, is the central character of the narrative. A girl spending the holidays away from her family, she goes on a nostalgic hunt for familial comforts. Production Designer Kat Hawker’s design of a 6 foot 5 ladder of lights, is the visual symbol of Butler’s inner warmth. Brought to life by cinematographer Nathalie Pitters, whose approach to visual storytelling here creates a cosy reminder of the importance of giving.
Together with the Christmas soundtrack by Rui da Silva, of classic early noughties club track Touch Me fame, and Sound Design from Dario Swade, the film leaves us with a truly comforting and warm feeling.
The Season of Light by Caleb Femi:
This is the best of times
this is the season of light
where we find our way through the dark
& see the path that brings us back to one another
back to the holly & ivy & beaming laughter
back to cups of something comforting
this is the warm feeling you’ve waited for all year
this is the two arms & chest you sink into
the ‘I’ve missed you’
the ‘tell me all about your adventures this year’
the only thing that should divide us
is whether we think mince pies taste
like heaven or dirty socks
Even though the sun doesn’t stay out for too long
this is the season of radiance
where we spark a change by giving our change
to those who aren’t as lucky as us
compassion is what makes us great
it’s not a good time unless we all are included
what’s mine is yours & what’s yours is ours
who said winter has to be bleak
the cold only teaches us to share our warmth
look how we garden our spring of hope
pass it around to cousins, lovers, strangers,
faces you’ve never met before but see yourself in
Take a selfie & call it a greeting card
send your smile around the world
or go offline, sit with a friend over
pudding & private jokes
or take the squad out on a night out
in your best glad rags & handbags
dripping from head to toe
bussing a whine & a two step
this is a time of timelessness
where you are a kid again entranced
by the glow of festive lights
angels & mistletoes & reindeer wrapped
along the length of the streets looking
like a constellation blazing
brightly o so brightly