John Akomfrah: Tropikos

20140717110730_aaDirector: John Akomfrah

Produced: Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, Smoking Dogs Films




BAFTA nominee John Akomfrah and his production company Smoking Dogs explore a deep-rooted, darker history of the river and its connections to the slave trade. Their film transforms the landscape of the river into a 16th Century English port of exploration and an unfamiliar place on the African continent.

In the 16th Century, ships built on and sailing from the River Tamar journeyed to Africa, participating in the profitable slave trade and introducing the experience of African culture to Plymouth on their return. Exploring how we encountered “the other”,Tropikos juxtaposes the experience of the people, cultures and landscapes from Africa and the South West which, through the slave trade and its subsequent abolition, have formed a disparate yet shared heritage.

Using a range of narrative texts and stunning locations in the Tamar Valley and evoking characters from Elizabethan history, Tropikos gives a reimagined life and meaning to the ‘age of discovery’ and to characters who have been left to dwell in the archives of history.

Tropikos (2014) – Directed by John Akomfrah, produced by, Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, Smoking Dogs Films – is commissioned by the River Tamar Project made possible with a kind contribution from the Elephant Trust and the George Melhuish Bequest and Smoking Dogs Films.


John Akomfrah

Born in Ghana, John Akomfrah OBE, lives and works in London. Alongside producers Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, over the last 30 years he has been committed to giving a voice and a presence to the legacy of the African Diaspora in Europe; using historical archives to create film essays and speculative fictional stories about our collective past. They are founding members of the Black Audio Film Collective.

Venue Information

Visit the Column Bakehouse located in the basement of Devonport Guildhall for a delicious range of fresh baked goods, snacks and drinks.

Travel Information

Bus routes available: 14/21/21A/34

Parking: there is limited parking available locally. We encourage travel by public transport wherever possible.