'Black Panther' makes history in the Oscars

Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright in Black Panther. PHOTO| COURTESY| MARVEL

What you need to know:

  • The Marvel block-buster hit became the first comic book-based film to earn a best picture nomination from the Academy Awards on Tuesday.
  • What remains now seems to be whether or not Black Panther will beat out the rest of the year’s competition and actually win the night.

Marvel's Black Panther broke through an Oscar category wall for superheroes. The Marvel block-buster hit became the first comic book-based film to earn a best picture nomination from the Academy Awards on Tuesday. It was a major step for comic book movies, which had previously been shunned from film’s top honour.

It took a decade, but Black Panther cracked the category after becoming a box-office hit and a cultural phenomenon. The film will be going up against rival nominees BlacKkKlansman,Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma,A Star is Born and Vice at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony on February 24.

Overall, Black Panther was rewarded a total of seven nominations including Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart’s production design, Ruth E. Carter’s costume design and Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s song "All the Stars.”

The film was also nominated for best sound editing, sound mixing and original score.

Beachler became the first African-American nominee for production design. Talking to AP, she said, "To break down a wall like that, to be your ancestors’ wildest dreams, to show other young women of colour and boys and girls that you can do whatever you want no matter what struggles you have in your life — all of that. That’s what it means to me.”

The 2018 hit, starring Chadwick Boseman, is one of the highest-grossing films and managed to get awards season off to a strong start when it also became the first Marvel movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Golden Globe. It was also nominated for Best Original Score and Original Song.

What remains now seems to be whether or not Black Panther will beat out the rest of the year’s competition and actually win the night. In that regard, it still has a few hurdles to clear. Genre bias is alive and well, but its nomination is a watershed moment on its own.


‘Zilizala’ opened my doors

He is a multiple award-winning cinematographer and director. Daudi Otieno grew up in Mombasa, hawking samosas for school fees before UNICEF came to his rescue later in his high school years.

Award-wining cinematographer Daudi Otieno.

What do you mean when you say yours was “a disturbing education journey”?

I had a tough time owing to lack of school fees from time to time. I was sent home on numerous occasions due to that fact. I had to hawk samosa to pay school fees.

The situation got worse and we were compelled to move from Mombasa to my rural home in Bondo, and I even reported late for Form One. It was after high school that I got lucky and landed a sponsorship courtesy of UNICEF to study film. This, I would say, marked a very important season of my life since. After my graduation I began endeavouring in my film journey in multiple projects.

Why cinematography?

That has always been my passion and I feel it gives me a wider spectrum to ex-press my ideas and what I have in general.

Which is the one show you would say gave you your first break?

“Zilizala”. Its debut opened so many doors, both locally and internationally. Having bagged numerous awards, like the Best Indigenous Language Movie Or TV Series at the 2017 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, it literally became a household name and so many opportunities arose from the recognition it received.

How many years have you been in the industry and what can you say has changed up to now?

Six years. Content expression has evolved in a better way; more professionalism has been incorporated in a holistic manner from the casting, production and post production. The audience is beginning to appreciate more local content and this is an inspirational move to film stakeholders and a major spirit lifter.

The government is also beginning to show great interest in promoting local film as we’ve seen some county governments investing in film seminars, workshops and work as well.

However, still on that context, I would appeal to the relevant government film stakeholders to tighten the lace as far as promoting film is concerned. I feel there’s still a lot that can be done to make it easier for film makers to bring out their content in an enabling environment. Otherwise there’s the promise of a brighter day from the way it’s picking up so I would say I’m grateful.

What does “PETE” mean to you and especially working with Maisha Magic?

It’s one of my greatest joy since working with them has really helped me learn a multiplicity of things I probably wouldn’t have learnt somewhere else.

Interacting with the Maisha Magic fraternity; Margaret Mathoore, Timothy Okwaro, Jakkie Anyanzwa, Trevor Tachiona and so many others has matured me in so many areas in film and I’m really humbled and grateful for their overwhelming support.

Considering that it was my first shot at a mega TV series, the reception in the local and international scope has been jaw-dropping and overwhelmingly good, something that has gone a long way in building my spirit and career as a film maker. I was also able to employ quite a big number of talented crew and this is a great boost to nation building. It’s a perfect indication that nothing is beyond reach as long as you believe.


‘Supa Modo’ misses out on awards

Kenya’s Oscars hopeful, superhero film Supa Modo, failed to nab a nomination for the upcoming Academy Awards. The film, which was picked ahead of the controversial Rafiki movie, fell by the wayside in the final nominations list in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Mexico’s Roma looks set to win the acclaimed award, also being a Best Picture nominee, in a nomination list that includes films like Shoplifters (Japan), Cold War (Poland), Capernaum (Lebanon) and Never Look Away (Germany).

Roma is fundamentally the tale of two women. Cleo (played wonderfully by non-professional new-comer Yalitza Aparicio) is a young woman of Mixteco Mesoamerican heritage working as a live-in maid for a beleaguered upper-middle-class family in Mexico City. Her personal life is beginning to unravel in tandem with that of her employer, Sofía (Marina De Tavira).

Supa Modo failed to follow in the footsteps of Watu Wote, a film based on an Al-Shabab terror at-tack on a bus in Mandera in 2015, which had received an Oscar nomination in 2018.

Like Watu Wote, the feel-good superhero film Supa Modo has already received international acclaim at ceremonies such as Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) and the Carthage Film Festival, and has enjoyed a lively run since its premiere at Berlinale in February, going on to screen at more than 30 festivals around the globe.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi presents to Mugambi Nthiga the 'Best Original Screenplay Award' for the movie Supa Modo during the Kalasha Awards 2018 held at the Safari Park Hotel on November 25, 2018. PHOTO| FILE

While speaking to Buzz, Ginger Wilson of Ginger Ink said that she had hoped the “little film with a big heart” would catch the attention of the Academy. She admitted that most feel-good films some-times are impossible contenders for this category.

“We were in a tough category which had wonderful films and I must admit that the Academy sometimes do not look for a family feel-good film as a contender,” said Wilson.

She added that unlike Watu Wote which was made and funded by foreigners, Supa Modo was all about Kenyans and by Kenyans, and that is why they had a difficult time trying to get sponsors to help market it at the Academy.

“We approached several multinationals to help us with funds so that we could market the film but unfortunately we didn’t receive anything from them and the government.”

The Director of the film, Likarion Wainaina, was optimistic despite not being shortlisted and said that it was an honour to represent the fans and supporters at the Oscars and that is a win in itself and such an amazing learning curve.

“As we continue our film festival run, we look back at this year with wonder and amazement at how far Supa Modo has come, and how much farther it can still go. We hope the successful run we have had will act as an inspiration to other filmmakers to encourage them to keep making movies and breaking barriers,” said Wainaina.

He thanked all the fans and the cast and crew, for being a part and parcel of the film. “And we say thank you for your hard work and dedication and a huge thank you for the time, sacrifice, sweat and dedication.”