Film musical aficionado, events organiser, operations manager and fan of all things Italiano, Mosa Mpetha finds time in her packed schedule to have a chat and a mani @TheNailBar.
The charming Mosa Mpetha grew up in Liverpool and absolutely loved it. Liverpool is still her favourite city in the world, she says. The Admin and Operations Manager for Tutti Frutti Productions initially worked for them three days a week to support her event management work. It soon grew into something more.
“We create performances for children with professional creatives and produce meaningful theatre,” says Mosa. “We produce quite beautiful theatre. I’ve never been in a more nurturing environment. They’re very family friendly. They understand people have responsibilities and demands.”
Outside her main job, Mosa has collaborated with Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds Young Film Festival, and the Bradford and Ilkley Literature Festivals, among others.
Her love for old films comes from binge-watching 50s musicals on the TCM channel as a teenager. For Scalarama she programmed and presented a capsule season of films made by choreographer Bob Fosse.
“This sprang from a conversation with [Scalarama Leeds organiser] Laura Ager talking about my love of old cinema. She suggested I become a guest programmer. I did [as Mashiya Presents] and loved it, and it’s carried on from there.”
Mosa describes now as being ‘a good time in life’ and says she never wakes up dreading the day ahead. Somehow she manages to pack into her days an obsession with all things Italian.
I’m just obsessed with Italy at the minute! I go every year to Il Cinema Ritrovato, which is a retrospective film festival [exploring three centuries of cinema, it says on its website]. It’s completely my cup of tea.
I like new film screenings, but they don’t get to me the same way. I think it’s because there’s a finite amount of old films that you can watch. Not entirely watch. No one can see everything in their lifetime, but it feels less expansive than new cinema. Sometimes I find it too overwhelming the amount of new films there are.
Watching old films can be humbling: you have a preconception that old cinema is going to be a certain way, and then see something that just blows your mind. You realise – ‘That’s the most inventive thing I’ve ever seen!’ – and it might be a film from 1920s’ Iran!
That’s my favourite feeling. Then you get the chance to share that with other people. You share something you love and others get to realise it’s not just ‘an old film,’ that old films don’t fit into one category.
I’m fascinated by retrospectives. You can learn so much about other cultures. When you see another culture from a film perspective, and not via the news or a book, it’s such a different version and experience. Like the impact of seeing 1950’s life in Japan, for example. It’s the humbling feeling again. It makes you realise that we are less significant than we think.
So, back to the Cinema Ritrovato…
Yes! It’s my third year this year. It’s totally me time. I take ten days and spend them eating lovely food, drinking wine and watching great cinema. It’s in Bologna which is a beautiful place. I’ve started making some Italian friends, so immediately after coming home this year I started learning Italian. I’m so in it and motivated. I just want all things Italian!
Unsurprisingly Mosa is a keen reader of books about cinema, as well as having two favourite works of fiction.
The first is The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts (1990), Louis de Bernières’ first book. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read, it’s just stunning.
It’s part of a trilogy, about a fictional South American country. What I love about it is that it focuses in on a village and key people and then it zooms right out to look at governments, army, religion, etc. It looks at different groups including warfare guerrillas and indigenous people, while all the time looking at individuals. It’s funny as well as tragic; it’s really beautiful.
My other favourite book, which I’m just starting to re-read, is The Bees (2014) by Laline Paull. This is just madness! Essentially you could say this is sci-fi because the book is about the bee and her life.
It’s scientifically pretty accurate, though obviously the bee is humanised, so we can engage and follow her. You are constantly reminded that she is a bee and not a human: she does bee things and communicates as a bee.
It’s about politics and society; it’s about religion and about fighting back. There are ideas around instinct and community. It’s very good and worth reading.
So with all this activity and work, what does her self care routine look like? It’s not a surprise that she is drawn to the classic Hollywood look, especially red nails. She admires her own newly manicured classic red, loving it because it’s a pure red (something she has definite views about).
Sometimes they sneak in a bit of pink or purple and you’re like No! No one asked for that, you know?’ So self care – things like this, getting a manicure, is very much for me. It was only a few years back I decided to invest more effort into myself. I decided to be more fem. I was quite tomboyish, but really it was just because I didn’t invest much time or effort into making myself polished or dressed up. I didn’t see it as necessary. I was quite content and happy.
But I decided to change and start doing it because I realised that each time I did I got such an inside happiness. I thought this obviously makes me feel good, so I’m going to commit to it. Skinwise, I don’t cleanse! [Excuse me, while I just get back off the floor.] I’m still apprehensive about too much product. I’m quite lucky with my skin. Also I like life to be simple and easy, so if I drop my routine and don’t do it, I don’t want to feel punished. It’s easier just to say I’m not going to do it.
We discuss eateries in Leeds. Her current favourite restaurant in Leeds is (sorpresa sorpresa) Italian!
I love Stuzzi. That means snack food in Italian. Four mates travelled around Italy, learning as much as they could about Italian life. Then they opened a restaurant here. They serve these wonderful Italian small plates and the menu changes weekly. The place is so pleasant and the vibe is lovely. The people are really welcoming, I love that! It’s my number one place at the minute.
So, Women in 2020. Is this a good time for women? Where are we at?
I feel like women are vastly superior to men in so many ways because we’ve got such an advantage over them. I don’t know if men realise how much of an advantage we have in that we share, we talk, we support each other so much more than men typically do. I feel sorry for men ‘cos I think, Bloody hell! If I had to go through some of the things I went through without anyone…
I understand why there’s a problem with male suicide, and it’s just so sad. My sympathy on this is thorough and well placed, however. I feel resentful that so many of our world’s problems are men’s problems. And the fact that this isn’t looked at as a universal problem, but is seen as a women’s problem. Who’s making these problems?! We aren’t, mostly! If we aren’t calling this men’s problem, at least let’s call this everyone’s problem! That pisses me off!
Women are lucky. We’ve got each other. We’ll always have each other, that’s not going to change. Currently for women it’s tough, but it’s been tough for… ever! It’s just still tough.
Any advice for women?
Someone once said to me, ‘Shy girls get nowt!’ It doesn’t mean shy women can’t be shy. It means that if we don’t ask, we won’t get. So – just get out there and ask. I care less and less now about how I ‘should’ be. Actually I realise we’re all so small and insignificant that this is my time and I will have a great time!
Some minimal shaping and cuticle tidying were all Mosa’s nails needed. She gets a gold star for regular use of cuticle oil! Blessed with long nail beds, Mosa can keep her nails at a ‘workable length,’ whilst still making a statement with classic red.