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MADU on Disney+ is a cinematic documentary that reminds you to do what you love

Directors Matt Ogens and Kachi Benson talk to us about what it was like to document Anthony Madu's story from viral video to prestigious ballet dancer

Anthony Madu

“…he just wanted to dance...”

2020 was a year that shut down the entire world, but for one young boy from Nigeria, it would be a year that would open up the world to him.

That year, a video of that 11-year-old boy and him beautifully dancing ballet set against a back alley in Lagos during a gentle rain began to circulate the internet. Fast forward to 2024 and the video of Anthony Madu has led to a new documentary that is now streaming on Disney+.

Madu is a documentary showing a year in the life of Anthony, from that viral video of him dancing in his hometown to getting the opportunity to leave home for the first time and train at a prestigious ballet school in London. Co-directed by two filmmakers, Matt Ogens and Kachi Benson, each of them felt drawn toward an aspect of Anthony’s life and wanted to tell his story.

“I remember seeing that viral video back during the start of the COVID pandemic, and feeling the light and joy it brought during a very dark and sad time we were all living in," said Ogens to us in a virtual interview. Benson adding, “[Anthony] was literally dancing in my backyard, in my country. There was a kinship and a connection immediately and had to meet him.”

Both Benson and Ogens shared that shortly after meeting Anthony and his mom, everything featured in the documentary all began to take place, allowing the them to document Anthony’s journey in real-time over a calendar year. “It was really a creative collaboration across countries and cultures,” Ogens said, pointing to events where Benson and his filmmaking team in Nigeria were able to shoot what home life was like for Anthony to Ogens and his London-based team finding ways to pick it up when Anthony arrived in England to begin his ballet training.

The beauty of Anthony’s journey is how simple it is, and the filmmakers wanted to encapsulate that into what moments they captured throughout the journey. “At the end of the day, it was all about Anthony and how he just wanted to dance because he loved and still loves to,” said Ogens, with Benson adding “I’m grateful that he and his mom trusted us over that year to share his story because his story speaks to many who are chasing their dreams no matter what.”

Much of the documentary, which was shot and edited to make it feel more cinematic, goes into what life was like for Anthony pursuing that dream of dancing ballet, including the times he was bullied for doing something that is considered not masculine in Nigeria and how he felt out of place at the ballet school due to his inexperience and not coming from formal training.

“There’s a natural drama and tension in all of that, but that’s what makes this documentary less of a documentary and more of the best coming-of-age story you’ll ever see,” said Ogens.

Benson added, “There was a lot of trust that was developed between Anthony, his mom, and us, which naturally allowed us all to capture some intimate moments that only elevated Anthony’s story that can speak through the noise and excuses that prevent us from doing something we love or chasing something we believe in,” said Benson. “His story still inspires me today.

MADU is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.

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