In an age where superhero movies, big-budget sequels and endless franchise reboots dominate multiplexes, it’s easy for cinephiles to bemoan the film world’s lack of originality and innovation, but that would mean that they’re not looking in the right places. The truth is, film is currently in a majorly creative and forward-thinking space—it’s just largely happening beyond the mainstream.
Tribeca's own Opeyemi Olukemi is at the forefront of it all. In her own words, she is focused on “creating storytelling for the future" via the gadgets people use on a daily basis, from laptops to smartphones and iPads. Olukemi regularly merges all of that together for Tribeca Hacks, the globetrotting initiative dedicated to inspiring open-minded storytellers, promoting collaboration and pushing cinema in bold, new directions.
Artists from all around the world converge on one location, get split into groups, are given a theme and then have several days to create a new, technologically-next-level storytelling project together. Since Tribeca Hacks first launched in 2012, Olukemi has overseen nearly 20 different "hackathon" events, bouncing around the world from the United States to France, Germany and Switzerland. This past May, Olukemi brought Tribeca Hacks to Holon, Israel, a coastal town not far from Tel Aviv. Thirty-five attendees were divided into five groups; one group, Team Lonely Monkeys, managed to create a wild new interactive installation by combining a "hacked" video game controller, a webcam, computer code and a projector.
In other words, Olukemi has been grooming storytelling’s new MacGyvers, one Tribeca Hacks event at a time. "When you come to a hackathon, you will be paired with other people who can complete your brain," says Olukemi. "You come to the table being humble, saying, 'I have X and you may have Y and Z, and together we can create the entire alphabet."
There's more wisdom where that came from, too. TFI has given Olukemi her much-deserved moment in the spotlight with the new documentary short The Coolest Job in New Media That You’ve Never Heard About. It's an all-access look at Olukemi’s recent Tribeca Hacks efforts in Israel, including a glimpse at Team Lonely Monkeys' loneliness-simulation project.
Who knows? One of the aspiring storytellers you’ll meet in the film could be the world’s next great and game-changing artist. “It’s only a matter of time before we have our own Kubrick,” says Olukemi. You’ll cosign her optimism after spending five minutes with Olukemi here.