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“Stylebender,” a Documentary on Israel Adesanya, Set to Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

“Stylebender,” a Documentary on Israel Adesanya, Set to Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

"Stylebender," a Documentary on Israel Adesanya, Set to Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Stylebender follows Adesanya through the ups and downs of his childhood and career, tapping into masculinity, bullying, mental health and the art of fighting and dance.

By Helena Olori

Stylebender, a feature documentary about Israel Adesanya, will have its World Premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on June 11.

“Finally…all in divine timing. My life is a movie,” announced the two-time UFC Middleweight Champion on Twitter.

Then Comes the Body, another documentary produced by Nigerian filmmakers, Damilola Aleje and Nathaniel Udoh, will also premiere at the festival after it was listed in the 2023 short film lineup. Directed by Jacob Krupnick, Then Comes the Body follows the story of Daniel Ajala, a self-taught ballet dancer, who rose to fame after a video of his students dancing in the rain went viral.

(Read also: Four African Films Selected For La Fabrique Cinema 2023)

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Stylebender is written and directed by Zöe McIntosh with Fraser Brown as the producer. It chronicles the life of the Nigeria-born, New Zealand-based MMA fighter who a few weeks ago, reclaimed the UFC middleweight world champion title with a second round KO against longtime rival Alex Pereira.

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“We started making this film almost five years ago, when Israel was barely known outside the MMA world. He’s literally become a global superstar in front of Zöe’s lens and his honesty and vulnerability has been extraordinary,” says Brown.

“My goal was always to get under the gloss and hype to unlock the poetry, emotion and contradictions inherent in Israel. I wanted to make a film that spoke not only to MMA fans, but to a wider audience who would connect with Israel’s authenticity and the importance of being your own ‘freaky’ self,” added Zöe McIntosh.

(Read also: Michael Omonua is Telling African Stories in the Language He Wants)

The 102-minutes-long documentary had been in the works since 2018, around the same time Adesanya made his UFC debut under the tutelage of his coach Eugene Bareman. The Nigerian born has had an impressive career since then, recording multiple championships across boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial art.

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