Why ‘Nairobi Half Life’ is a big hit
Posted Sunday, January 20 2013 at 02:00
- Director Tosh Gitonga partly attributes the film’s success to the massive social media campaign by the production company, One Fine Day Films
- The film has been showing at the Century Cinemax since September last year and has attracted a crowd of 10,000 to date
Nairobi Half Life has become the biggest theatrical success for a local film, grossing over $82,000 (Sh7 million) in local ticket sales alone, according to distribution company Crimson Multimedia.
The success of the film directed by David “Tosh” Gitonga has breathed fresh air into the Kenyan film industry.
Nairobi Half Life tells the story of an aspiring actor who travels from his rural home to Nairobi with the hope of achieving his dreams but instead ends up tangled with a mob of criminals. (Obbo: Nairobi Half Life: When I grow up, I really don’t want to live in this city)
Touches on homosexuality
It’s a tale of struggle, ambition, crime, prostitution, corruption and even touches on homosexuality.
The movie has received international attention equal to no other local production. (Read: 'Nairobi Half Life': Kenya's first entry in Oscar race)
It became the first Kenyan film to be considered for an Oscar while locally it grabbed four trophies at the Kalasha awards. (Read: Kenya’s best on screen feted at Kalasha Awards)
One of its cast, Joseph Wairimu, also won the Best Actor Award at the Durban International Film Festival last year.
The director partly attributes the film’s success to the massive social media campaign that the production company, One Fine Day Films, took but adds that it could have been much greater if proper distribution mechanisms were in place in Africa.
“A few cinemas are screening the production in Kenya. You can only imagine if we were able to distribute in the entire continent,” he says.
In the West, for instance, films are showcased at festivals then studios buy the rights, market and distribute them all over the world.
“We’re learning along the way though,” says Tosh, adding that Kenyan filmmakers have to take their time in producing, other than rushing and expecting to come out with a good movie. (Read: Nairobi Half Life: Undoubtedly the year’s best)
Jayesh Patel, the general manager of Century Cinemax, Junction, on Ngong Road, says the company did not foresee the film’s success.
“The first time they (the producers) approached us, I remember watching the movie on DVD and I thought it was quite good. We agreed to take it on. We knew it would sell but we did not know it would be this big,” he says.
The film has been showing at the Century Cinemax since September last year and has attracted a crowd of 10,000 to date.
On what sets it apart from other movies, Patel says people want to watch good movies with good stories.
When you attend film screenings, it’s a product you’re paying for and Nairobi Half Life, in his view, is brilliant. The creators did their research well so the film is believable and the story is entertaining. This is something you don’t see very often in Kenya films.
“When you have such a film, even the distributors go the extra mile to promote it,” says Patel who keeps a rolled-up Nairobi Half Life poster with autographs from the main stars. He intends to hang it next to an antique Star Wars poster, the only one on his office wall.