Fenn O’Meally has directed Tall Are The Roots, a short film that documents conversations with three protagonists, exploring how their respective realities reflect a commonality of experience; that their individual moments of self-reflection, and their resolutions of internal conflicts, speak to a broader human truth.
The film was commissioned by Ben Gorham, the Founder & Creative Director of fragrance brand Byredo. The collaboration and excerpts from the film mark the launch of Byredo’s Mixed Emotions scent which is designed to reflect the tumultuous nature of our times—a distillation of highs and lows, mirroring unstable realities and a world in flux.
Interwoven against a poetic backdrop of surreality, sometimes narrated by the words of Kai-Isaiah Jamal, a series of chapters unfold to present a multi-faceted narrative of acceptance and liberation. ”Like Mixed Emotions itself, I want to leave Tall Are The Roots up to people’s individual interpretations: how the scent smells on your skin, or what you might connect within the film, will be different for everyone,” explains O’Meally. ”But the mind can so flow with such fluidity from darkness into light—and ultimately, Tall Are The Roots is about figuring out where you stand in the world today, and about being okay with the unsettled state of the human mind right now.”
Mixed Emotions seems to defy categorisation. A scent that is a calming force, a teacher, an instigator. And reflections of the characters in Tall Are The Roots leave the space for the viewer to impose their own story or search for meaning, healing or escape.
I believe that we, as humans, have come to a crossroads in the world where facades are slowly dissolving away. We can see it as a painful experience, or we can move towards change and the new world.
Alewya Demmisse, Musician
Everything gives you poetry. We can honour things in their darkness, and honour them in their light. When I write my truest, maybe saddest, maybe most honest poetry, that is when people say they can see themselves in it. That makes me very sure that those moments of darkness should be dignified with the same space as the positive, as the light.
Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Poet
I believe we’ve come to a place in the world where, if we stick together, we can make a change. Without darkness, there won’t be light.
Deneille Percival, Dancer
Photography credit: Nick Offord featuring poet Kai Isiah Jamal, musician Alewya Demisse and choreographer Abdourahman Njie