On March 31st, Sampha released a short film as a companion to his moving debut album, Process. The film is a captivating narrative of Sampha’s roots in Morden, South London and in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Premiering exclusively on Apple Music, the 37 minute film, directed by Khalil Joseph (who also contributed to Beyoncé’s Lemonade), features documentary-style footage with striking cinematic visuals of the African people of Freetown and the urban life of South London.
The film is a sequence of vignettes featuring “ghostly spiritual surfer guides, crop dance formations, time-altering narrative leaps,” and performances of tracks by Sampha from Process. The film opens with”Plastic 100°C” and a scene of still bodies laid throughout an empty outdoor yard, with interspersed performance footage of Sampha in an intimate venue.
Though a short film, this collection of stories explores many themes. It touches on love, with scenes of a young African couple sharing intimate moments, as well as family and loss, telling the story of an elderly mother, played by Sampha’s grandmother, who has outlived her 14 children, and says “Everyone has died now/I’m the only one left.” It also explores African culture, with groups of tribal dancers performing traditional sequences, while Sampha and his dreamy and warm vocals narrate this visual collage in the background.
The most gut-wrenching scene of the entire film is Sampha’s performance of “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” at the funeral of his mother, who passed away in September 2015 of cancer and to whom he dedicated much of his album and his film. “That’s the one that really hits home because that’s the last song he sung his mother,” a man’s voice says prior to the scene of his performance. The quote that flashes across the screen before we see him perform this deeply personal song best encapsulates the theme of this film, his relationship with his mother, and his people: “I’m connected with you, no matter where you are.”
Shots of the film will appear via wall projections on storefronts scattered throughout Brooklyn, New York, and London starting April 14. You can watch the entire film here (with an Apple Music subscription) and an excerpt of the film above, or stream the album below. Sampha will also be playing the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD on May 6th with The xx, so get your tickets here!