Crowdfunding for Wrestlin’ Jacob

Encounters is supporting crowd funding campaigns for the prize winning filmmakers from the 2016 festival. Ako Mitchell is one of the successful winners of the Widening the lens pitching award 2016 who will now be provided with support to fund future creative projects.

Ako Mitchell's film, Wrestlin Jacob, is being part funded by a crowd funding campaign. Read on and please help Ako reach his target, and donate! There are some fantastic prizes included in the campaign,, Read on for full details...


‘Oh freedom, Oh freedom, Oh freedom over me! And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.’ -Traditional

On the day Pastor Lonnie Nelson celebrates the 10th anniversary of his fledgling East London church he is reunited with a young man who could potentially undermine his life’s work and challenge his faith. ‘Wrestlin’ Jacob’ examines the relationships and juxtapositions between faith and love. It is a story of freedom and hope in the face of prejudice and resistance.

The film will be directed and co-written by Ako Mitchell, winner of third prize at the 2016 Widening the lens pitch competition, having already received accolades for his short film ‘I’m in the corner with the bluebells’. Ako’s directorial debut premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014, won Best Director at the Mica Film Festival in Brazil, Best Drama at the Sunderland Short Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the Southwest London International Film Festival.


cast photo


The film’s cast includes Chris Jarman who is currently starring in the multi-award winning theatrical hit ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ at The Palace Theatre, West End. Sheila Atim just concluded her run Ferdinand and Lucius in the ‘Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy’ directed by Phyllida Lloyd performed at St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York and at the Donmar King’s Cross. Omari Douglas is in rehearsals with Olivier Award Winner Sharon D. Clarke for The Life at The Southwark Playhouse playing Slick, opening 25th March 2017.

‘I’m passionate about this topic as it holds the potential to be a catalyst for the Black church to truly be a source of light for all those who up to now have been uncharitably treated and misunderstood.’ – Chris Jarman

‘Wrestlin’ Jacob will be produced and co-written by actress and filmmaker Zara Plessard who additionally co-founded the film company Pinhead Pictures, which tells stories about current social and political issues in the hope that they will encourage greater acceptance and understanding of those who are often treated with intolerance and disrespect. The Director of Photography Mari Yamamura shot the documentary short, ‘Gwynfor Y Penderfyniad’, selected for screening at the BSC New Cinematographers Night.

You can check out some of the team’s soundtrack promotional material, including original tracks from Sheila Atim and Kianja. Have a listen here:

Wrestlin’ Jacob Crowdfunder from Pinhead Pictures on Vimeo.


Ako Mitchell - Director PhotoIn regards to ‘Wrestlin’ Jacob’ Ako has stated “My interest in this project goes back many years and is in essence a tribute to two extraordinary men – the twins Lawrence Sturden and Leonard Sturden – two of my  uncles. These men persevered through the challenges of being religious and gay in the hostile environs of an impoverished community in the 80’s and 90’s.”

“I am also a distant cousin of the Reverend James Cleveland – an icon of modern gospel music – and I have taken inspiration from stories surrounding his ministry and death. With ‘Wrestin’ Jacob’ I aim not to titillate but to investigate and perhaps add a stone on the pathway to tolerance.”

As an actor, Ako starred as Coalhouse Walker, Jr in the acclaimed Charing Cross Theatre production of ‘Ragtime’ where he received a second Of West End Awards Best actor nomination. He played actor Lenny Henry’s brother Gabriel in ‘Fences’ in London’s West End. Ako also played opposite Whoopi Goldberg and Sheila Hancock in ‘Sister Act’ at The London Palladium and opposite Academy Award nominee Anne Archer at the Park Theatre.

An incredible range of exciting rewards will be offered to those who donate significant funding to the project. Check them out below:

£5- EVERY LITTLE HELPS- Shout out on social media and digital poster
£15- SNEAK PREVIEW- Digital link to the film + the above
£25- BEHIND THE SCENES- Exclusive access to online BTS content + all the above
£50- RAISE YOUR VOICE- Digital download of the soundtrack + all the above
£75- SIGNED POSTER- Signed poster + all the above
£125- GOSPEL STAR- Thanks in the credits, all the above and 2 tickets to the cast and crew screening

If you’re feeling particularly generous:

£200- FILM LOVERS PACKAGE- Free full festival pass to Bristol Encounters Film festival 2017 + t-shirt and bag + book + bunting + all the above 2 available

£250- AN EXCLUSIVE INVITATION- Tea with the director, producer and cast member of your choice + Bristol Encounters Retrospective book + all the above (except  Film Lovers Package) 5 available

£400- YOU ARE AN ASSOCIATE PRODUCER- Associate Producer credit + t-shirt & bag + Bristol Encounters Retrospective book 3 available

£500- WRESTLIN’ JACOB LIVE- Visit the set, live personal performance of a song from the soundtrack + ASSOC PROD CREDIT+ GOSPEL STAR + SIGNED POSTER +  RAISE YOUR VOICE + BEHIND THE SCENES + SNEAK PREVIEW + EVERY LITTLE HELPS