I was popular for being a witch in school and people avoided me – Chinenye Ulaegbu

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In an intimate interview with Pearls News, rising filmmaker Chinenye Ulaegbu opens up about the deeply personal reasons behind releasing her latest film, Cry Me Awake, on her birthday

The film, directed by SMART EDIKAN and produced by Ulaegbu herself, tackles the harrowing experience of a teenage schoolgirl falsely accused of witchcraft and bullied by her peers—a storyline that mirrors Ulaegbu’s own painful past.

“I chose my birthday to release Cry Me Awake because I have a special connection to the story,” Ulaegbu reveals. “The film highlights a significant social issue that often gets overlooked—labeling and bullying someone based on false accusations. This can lead to lasting psychological damage, causing anxiety, depression, and a lack of trust in others, which profoundly impacts a person’s behavior and relationships.”

Chinenye Ulaegbu’s connection to the narrative is far from abstract. 

During her secondary school years, she herself was labeled a witch and subjected to relentless bullying. “A friend claimed I appeared in her dream, and she reported me to the vice principal. Without a chance to defend myself, I was told to never appear in her dreams again,” Ulaegbu recounts. “The rumor spread quickly, and I became infamous in the school for something I wasn’t.”

Enduring both physical and verbal harassment, Chinenye Ulaegbu found the strength to persevere. She moved to Enugu for further studies, carrying the weight of her traumatic experiences in silence. It wasn’t until a decade later, when she confided in a friend who had also faced cruel labeling, that her healing began.

“Talking about my experience after ten years was the turning point,” she explains. “I had nightmares and flashbacks, but confronting those memories was essential for my healing. Today, while the memories remain, they no longer scare or hurt me. Instead, I channeled that pain into creating a movie that can spark conversations and perhaps help others going through similar ordeals.”

Ulaegbu’s courage in sharing her story through cinema underscores the power of art in addressing Social issues and fostering empathy.

Her film, Cry Me Awake, is not just a personal catharsis but a poignant commentary on the devastating impact of false accusations and bullying. As it premieres on her birthday, it marks a celebration of resilience and the transformative power of storytelling.

Chinenye Ulaegbu concludes with a message of hope and strength. “I didn’t let my past break me. Instead, I made a movie about it, and I can’t wait for the world to see it.”