"Our whole life is a collaboration," says Adanne Ebo, one half of the filmmaking duo, the Ebo Twins. Their feature debut, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul., directed by Adamma Ebo and produced by Adanne, is a satirical comedy starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown.
"I always say it doesn't feel like working with another person," continues Adanne. "It just feels like an extension of myself." The same can be said for their favorite movies — though they each have their own specific favorites, they equally vibe off one another's. Their shared sensibilities are on display in Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul., but the full extent of their wide-ranging tastes can be found in the films that have influenced them.
"We just want to keep surprising people and want to keep having fun doing this," Adanne says. "I hope Honk for Jesus shows people the types of films we like to make, the types of tone that we like to play around with. I hope it shows people that this is just the beginning."
Adamma adds, "I want it to do all those things, but it's kind of less about us and more about, see what happens when you take risks on people? We're first-time filmmakers. We are women. We're Black women. And, unfortunately, all of those things are deemed a risk in this industry. So, shout-out to the people who were down for taking the risks. I hope that this shows that the risk is well worth it."
Below, Adamma and Adanne each share with A.frame their five favorite films, starting with Adamma's five picks and alternating with Adanne's five, but often times with commentary from both.
Written and Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Adamma: I can't tell you how I felt the first time that I saw it — we were so little — but I can tell you that I watch it multiple times a year, and I have for basically my entire life. It's a film that's very important to me. Hayao Miyazaki is my favorite director of all time. I love that it's slice of life and very calming, but there's a bit of existential dread in it about, like, 'I don't know who I am if I'm not the person that I've always prepared myself to be, or that my family has prepared me to be.' I love that it's grounded fantasy. I love that it's anime — because we love anime — and it's gorgeous.
I love its use of what Hayao Miyazaki calls ma. He describes it as the moments in between a clap where everything is still — it's in between tension, it's in between chaos, and everything is still. I try to bring some ma into my own filmmaking and my own writing at all times. I love Kiki's Delivery Service. It's, hands down, one of my favorite films.
Written and Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Adanne: Adamma and I were both in band in high school, and marching band and concert band in the South is a very particular experience. Whiplash triggered my PTSD. We've had band directors and conductors throw metronomes and things at us.
Adamma: It was definitely perform until you bleed.
Adanne: You bleed, for sure. But I thought it was so fresh to show this type of world with this type of thriller tone. And I was literally on the edge of my seat the entire time. The performances are great. The music is great. I walked away from that, like, 'I need to go to sleep and kind of turn my whole self off,' because it was almost too much for me to consume. I loved it that much.
Directed by: Ernest R. Dickerson | Written by: Gerard Brown and Ernest R. Dickerson
Adamma: It's a hood classic. And I think it's a criminally underrated film. Tupac Shakur is in it. An itty bitty Omar Epps is in it. And it's spectacularly directed — primarily the climax of the movie, where it's just Tupac chasing Omar Epps through the city trying to murder him. There's so much tension in it. I can't say enough about it. It's directed by Ernest Dickerson, who is known mostly for DP-ing Spike Lee's stuff. It's a phenomenal film. It's surprising in a lot of ways, and I think it has the perfect ending.
Adanne: If we didn't lose Tupac, he would've been an acting star just off of that. He's phenomenal in it.
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman | Written by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
Adanne: I went to see that film in theaters six or seven times. I was proselytizing about it. I was, like, going door to door, saying, 'Have you heard about Into the Spider-Verse?' Because it's that good of a film. We're big animation lovers, and the animation in that is just spectacular. It's something all its own, and it's a visual masterpiece. I also think the tone of it is spot-on. And I personally love the structure of it. I love how the multiverse and the different Spider-Men are introduced. I'm a big structure person, so it's a masterpiece to me.
Written and Directed by: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Adamma: It's never the movie that people talk about enough when they talk about the Coens. I think the majority of their work is fabulous, obviously, but A Serious Man is just so specific. The first 10 minutes of the film is completely in Yiddish and there's subtitles, and then, we're in the '70s and we never get back to it. There's this whole dental scene about Hebrew being inscribed on a goy's teeth — a non-Jewish person's teeth. It's so weird. It's so surreal. It's also very sad, and also deeply hilarious. Tonally, it's all the things that I love about the Coens — and things that I love about films in general.
Adanne: 'I have begged you to see the rabbi!'
Directed by: Penny Marshall | Written by: Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel
Adanne: Adamma and I grew up playing baseball, and we grew up being the only girls on the team. A League of Their Own has everything that I could want in a film. It's directed by a woman and women-led. It's very, very funny. The drama hits when it's supposed to hit. And it's baseball! Baseball movies are my favorite types of sports movies. I can quote that film. It's fantastic.
Written and Directed by: Makoto Shinkai
Adamma: Your Name. is another anime film. It's a romantic comedy. It's very grounded sci-fi. It's a body-switch comedy, which is an anime trope, but it handles it in a not-too-fanservice-y type of way. I was inconsolable the first time I watched this movie.
Adamma: I was in absolute tears for a long time. For like, 20 minutes. It's gorgeous. I think the voice acting is phenomenal, because there's body-switching. The voice actors modulate their voices to pitch up or down in order to really sell that these people have switched bodies. It is such a phenomenal movie. It's a feat of animation.
Written and Directed by: Brad Bird
Adanne: It's The Incredibles. It's a perfect film. The animation is perfect. The voice acting is perfect. The direction is perfect. The action is perfect. The score is my favorite score of all time, of any movie. Honestly, I can see myself getting married to that score. It is fantastic. And it's also the tone of it. The dialogue, in particular — the wittiness and the back and forth. Like when Mr. Incredible saves the man from falling off a building, and then, we learn that he intentionally jumped. And he sues Mr. Incredible for saving him. And Mr. Incredible's like, 'I saved your life!' And the man's like, 'You didn't save my life! You ruined my death!'
Adamma: It's in the opening of a children's movie!
Adanne: I was like, what? It's perfect.
Directed by: Craig Gillespie | Written by: Nancy Oliver
Adamma: I am obsessed with this movie. Ryan Gosling plays a man who is on the spectrum — high functioning, but very obviously on the spectrum — and in order to cope with where his life seems to be going, he enters into a full-on romantic, non-sexual relationship with a sex doll. It's one of the most beautiful romances I've ever seen. It's one of the most beautiful stories about siblings I have ever seen. I think the ending is perfect, and it is absolutely hilarious.
The majority of the films on my list have comedy in them — because comedy is important to me — but also have this tonal breadth. It's not one thing. And the tone of Lars and the Real Girl is special. The performances are super special. The script was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Whenever I meet someone new and they're like, 'We should watch one of your favorite movies together,' I'm always like, "Lars and the Real Girl,' because I know they're going to be like, 'Wait, what's happening?' and then, by the end, they'll be in tears.
Directed by: Peter Lord and Nick Park | Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick
Adanne: Chicken Run very much is emblematic of a tonally perfect movie, for us. And it's probably because it's a British movie.
Adamma: Daniel [Kaluuya, who produced Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.] actually said to us that what drew him to our script was that it had a very British sensibility.
Adanne: Chicken Run is a dark comedy about chickens trying to escape death. But the dialogue is perfect. The comedy is perfect. It's got a ton of heart. After I saw the movie as a child, I was like, 'I can't eat chicken anymore.' That did not last, but, in the moment, it was real. I felt very moved.
Adamma: And it's stop-motion animation. Stop-motion animation and 2D animation are our favorite animated forms. Please bring some of that back. LAIKA's doing the good work; let's get some more 2D!