Starting this week, Goethe-Institut Toronto presents Africa Now, a six-film series highlighting a selection of feature films produced by One Fine Day Films over the last decade. The series highlights 6 Kenyan-German features that have emerged from One Fine Day’s collaborations with Nairobi-based Ginger Ink Films and earned awards from TIFF to Rotterdam to Los Angeles. Here, I share my top 3 film screening at the Africa Now series.
Founded in 2008 by Berlin filmmaker Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run; Cloud Atlas), One Fine Day is an initiative that supports African filmmakers in the writing and production of their own stories through mentorships and training programs. In the time since, One Fine Day Films has mentored over 1000 filmmakers from 21 African countries.
March 5, 6:30pm
Directed by Likarion Wainaina
(Germany, Kenya – 2018)
Jo (Stycie Waweru) is a vibrant 9-year-old terminally ill girl, who moves back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia), overprotective mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill.
My thoughts: This well-written, bittersweet film is a great start to the series. With a little help and Jo’s own imagination, she can escape her circumstances via her alter ego (Supa Modo). This is a truly endearing story, and Waweru is excellent as Jo. The film is a great reminder of the importance of community, which director Wainaina clearly depicts with Jo, her family, and her village. Although you may shed some tears, this is a truly rich film.
March 7, 6:30pm
Directed by Hawa Essuman
(Kenya, Germany – 2010)
Nairobi, Kenya. 14-year-old Abila (Samson Odhiambo) lives with his parents in Kibera, one of the largest slums in East Africa. One morning the teenager discovers his father is ill and delirious. His father tell Avila that Someone has stolen his soul. Abila wants to help his father and goes in search of a cure. Along with his friend Shiku (Leila Dayan Opou), he learns that his father has gambled his soul away.
My thoughts: Director Essuman blends myth with reality in this short but entertaining feature film. Odhiambo as Abila is a strong lead; so is Opou as Shiku. The supernatural elements combined with very current issues, and the pacing of the film will appeal to various age groups. The camera work and score are also pretty good.
March 12, 6:30pm
Directed by Judy Kibinge
(Germany, Kenya – 2013)
This is a film about a crucial time in Anne’s (Susan Wanjiru) life. She is a woman struggling to rebuild her life after the civil unrest that swept Kenya following the 2007 elections. During that time, her husband died, her son is in a coma, leaving her family’s farm in ruins. Joseph (Walter Lagat), a troubled young gang member who was part of the countrywide violence during the time, finds solace in Anne and her farm. Both need something that only the other can give so they can shed the painful memories of their past and move forward.
My thoughts: Although not the happiest of stories, director Kibinge focuses on Anne’s story rather than the violence that took place. The story helps address some important issues, such as violence against women, reconciliation, and survival. The film is not perfect, but Wanjiru’s performance drives the film.
The One Fine Day: Africa Now series screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on March 5, 7, 10, 2019. The series is also co-presented by the Toronto Black Film Festival. For a full listing of films, and ticketing info, please click here.
Main image courtesy of One Fine Day Films: Supa Modo film shoot.