Community is as much about shared otherness as it is cultural connection, and romanticizing youth culture only tells us a fraction of the collective story of those within it. Co-directed by Justyna Obasi and Arinzechukwu Patrick, new short Relapse is a skate film where the skating is just a scratch on the surface – a real-life character study, poised as a snapshot of Accra’s skate community.

Seen through the personal journey of Lionel, Relapse enters an exploration of Ghanaian youth culture, in life, addiction, love, and loneliness, told via the shared experience of friends and community, and the unwanted shadows that bond them. As he anticipates the arrival of his first child, Lionel’s reliance on substances is replaced by the need to be a reliable presence as a father, in a raw observation of street culture’s lesser-documented facets.

“I am focused on authentic cast and raw visuals that reach for the core of our human experience. Our approach was intuitive and playful and the result is visually poetic, centering the true story of Lionel, a nursing father determined to quit skating and the recreational drug use that it comes with.”

In its direction, the film acknowledges the crisis of masculinity, and the coping mechanisms developed in response, studying the complexities behind the individuals that shape communities and their formation. In dream-like visuals, shot on location during a two-day road trip between Accra, Tema, and Ada, Justyna Obasi and Arinzechukwu Patrick present a cinephile’s view of fluctuations in identity and experience, approaching how sudden shifts can alter the means of navigating addiction, personal networks, and the interrelationship between them. 

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