ACTSCENE: The year that was in Kenyan film and television

Saturday December 30 2017

The television drama series Sue na Jonnie won

The television drama series Sue na Jonnie won all the categories they were nominated for during this year’s Kalasha Awards. PHOTO| FILE 

By HILARY KIMUYU
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2017 saw the Kenyan big and small screen industry flourish. Three films were nominated for the 2018 Oscar Awards and local television shows got a boost on production courtesy of DSTV as it pumped much needed funds into programmes. ActScene looks back at some of the outstanding films and television shows that dominated the industry in 2017.

 

Film

KATI KATI

Who could forget what this film has achieved? From being nominated for an Oscar and other awards across the globe to dominating the Kalasha Awards. Before being selected to represent Kenya in the category of Best Foreign Language films at the 90th Academy Awards 2018, Kati Kati had won a number of accolades such as the 2017 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Award and 2017 Africa Movie Viewer’s Choice Awards for East Africa. Kati Kati is the directorial debut of Mbithi Masya and brings together a star-studded cast from the local scene including Nyokabi Gethaiga as Kaleche, Elsaphan Njora as Thoma, Paul Ogola as Mikey and Peter King Mwania as King.

 

NEOPHOBIA

The 17 minute film was the only African movie that was selected and screened at this year’s prestigious 70th Cannes Film Festival in France. The film was selected by the festival’s Short film corner panel and Creative Minds Group. Staring Joyce Maina and Bryan Ogola.

It centers on a modern day fairy tale, which tells the story of a young woman obsessed with old routine and an unwillingness to try new things.

When she unexpectedly finds an appreciation for a modern hair dryer, she is forced to completely rethink -and overthink -her life.

 

18 HOURS

It is a film which raises important issues on the status of emergency health care in Kenya, as well as highlights the importance of citizens registering for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

It also shines a light on laws and safeguards that enshrine universal emergency health care and informs the public on the power of first aid responses.

The film was inspired by a true event and follows a rookie paramedic who spends 18 hours in an ambulance to save the life of an accident casualty. It also pays tribute to the resilience, efforts and dedication of ambulance paramedics and care providers.

It the first film to open across East Africa at the same time. Produced by Kenyan film company Roque Pictures Inc, the 70 minute motion-picture cast is led by Nick Ndeda, from the MTV Shuga series, Susan Wanjiru, a 2015 Berlinale Talents Alumina from the film Something Necessary and rising star Brian Ogola from the award winning film Kati Kati.

 

THANK YOU FOR THE RAIN

A violent storm brings together a Kenyan farmer and a Norwegian filmmaker. The farmer transforms from a father to community leader and an activist on the global stage. Following a storm that destroys his house, he starts a community movement of farmers fighting the impact of extreme weather and takes this message of hope all the way to the UN Climate Talks, in Paris, COP21. Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan farmer from a small village in Kitui County documented his family’s life, his village and the effects of climate change in the documentary Thank you for the Rain. Kisilu and Norwegian filmmaker Julia Dahr’s perspectives take on a remarkable twist, shedding a powerful light on the climate justice movement and the vastly different worlds they represent. Thank You For The Rain is a 100 minute film documenting and addressing a range of issues linked to climate change, including justice, urbanisation, gender equality, education, access to water, refugees and adaptation.

 

Television

MAZA

This is a Kenyan telenovela shot, directed and produced in the country. The Swahili soap opera is set in the coastal town of Mombasa. The show depicts the unfolding intrigues and drama of a once successful family whose strong bond is crushed by a best friend’s envy in one night. Produced by television couple, Lulu Hassan and her husband Rashid Abdala, it features five main characters Dingo (husband), Lea (Wife), Maya (Daughter), Badi (Son) and Kate (Lea’s best friend). The show starts with a flashback when Lea mysteriously disappears, never to be found or heard from again. After years of an emotional roller-coaster, Dingo and his two children Maya and Badi must find closure. The court declares Lea officially dead but her cousin Pili suspects malice and she is not ready to let go of this matter.

 

VARSHITA

This is a comedy that depicts a crazy, pathetic and tragic relationship of two lovers who find themselves in an unexplainable love af­fair. The show is set in the city and delves into the traditional and cultural expectations of Indian and African families which find themselves in a situation that proves difficult to untangle.

It reunites the disastrous bond of Eve D’souza and Maqbul Mohammed who have a love-hate relationship and a dysfunctional family in the popular NTV show Auntie Boss.

The Bhatt’s, an Indian family and the Wangombe’s discover that their children Varshita and Donovan have been secretly dating for 10 years even though the Bhatt family has been planning a traditional wedding for their daughter to another Indian family.

Don, the sworn life bachelor is a laid back tech­preneur, while Varshita is a loud, dramatic, and obsessive and a little unhinged former model, hung up on past glory. Her single most important mission in life is to get Don to marry her.

The situations the couple and their families find themselves in make for crazy but usually hilarious comedy, that makes the show, the ultimate text book example of dysfunctional families and a couple that should never have gotten together in the first place.

 

SUE NA JONNIE

The television drama series Sue na Jonnie won all the categories they were nominated for during this year’s Kalasha Awards.

The show is written by Abel Mutua and directed by Phil Karanja. Sue and Jonnie accidentally end up committing a capital offence.

Unfortunately for them, there has been a pair of unwanted ears all along, silently listening in on their criminal activities.

Things get extremely rough for them. It stars among others Catherine Kamau as Sue and Martin Githinji as Jonnie.

 

JELA 5 – STAR

This is a comedy based in prison. The prison is on its usual high when the wardens realise the character Ghost is missing after a routine inspection. The show also touches on comical stories that take place in prison as different characters come and go giving it an exciting feel.

Featuring in the show is Madam Melba, a woman who runs a male correctional facility, but is not one to back away from a challenge.

Her glorious past as a member of the Prison Service Boxing Team makes her a fierce disciplinarian, but beneath her tough exterior is a soft and humane personality. It also stars Bilali Wanjau Ibrahim, Kevin Ogutu among others and is produced by Appie Matere and the set designed by George Mungai.