Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kenya's Malooned and other African movies

Good morning my neighbours! There was a time when Africa's representation in movies was synonymous with 'Coming to America'. The film was shown on tv in Ghana countless times when I was young and yesterday I had the chance to see it again. As I am older now, I watched the movie with more of a critical eye than back then and saw the stereotypes, etc. I am not about to get worked up about Africa's portrayal because I also watched Kenya's Malooned movie which I believe is one of the better African movies I've ever seen. African cinema is coming off age, especially local movies. There are a lot of African films outside the Nollywood circuit and we should begin to watch them. I'll try to share a few of them with you.

Malooned is a film by Kenya's Cinematic Studios, produced and directed by Bob Nyanja. I first heard about it through my Kenyan buddy here. I borrowed the DVD from Stanford's library and watched it a second time. For those crying for African films to have interesting and different plots, how about this one - Malooned is a movie about a man and a woman stuck in a toilet over a holiday weekend. Genius! You don't need too many characters, don't need too many sets, don't have to worry about how to show special effects with respect to blood. You know how it's done in many African movies? They use knockouts and dye. Sad. Anyway, Malooned was a low-budget film but very very well done in my opinion.

The movie featured Charles Bukeko, who is famous outside Kenya for his role in this Brrr Coca Cola advert. Godffrey Odhiambo plays a Luo man who is malooned in the loo together with Gabriella Mutia plays a Kikuyu woman. I like how their discussions involve Kenyan politics, their different relationships, etc. Turns out Godffrey's character, Luther Vandross Odhiambo, attended Stanford University. Cool huh? It's not too cool when you think of some of the ridiculous ideas he tries out to get the twosome out of the loo. I watched the making of the movie and was impressed with how they went about the production. The movie was done in 10 days (whittled down from 21). 10? Sounds like Nollywood to me. Movie-making is not easy and seeing how the movie was shot was eye-opening for me. You should see Malooned if you get a chance, I highly recommend it.

Here are a few other Eastern African movies of note. Kenya's From a Whisper commemorated the 10th anniversary of August 7th terrorist bombing in Kenya in 1998. It was directed by Wanuri Kahiu. Trailer here. I am hoping to see this movie soon. It features Godffrey Odhiambo as well as Corrine Onyango. The movie won a bunch of awards at the last African Movie Awards. Wanuri's Dada Productions also came out with Ras Star, a short film about a teenage rapper, Amani, who's from a staunch Muslim family. The film is loosely based on Necessary Noize's Nazizi. Watch it here. Another Kenyan movie/documentary of note is "Coming of Age" by Judy Kibinge talking about three political ages - Kenyatta to Arap Moi to Kibaki. Learn about it here.

I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of South Africa's White Wedding movie in my lap. After the success of serious-minded movies like Yesterday, Tsotsi, Jerusalema & District 9, it would be nice to watch a South African comedy. Kenneth Nkosi and Rapulana Seiphemo are two of my favorite actors now. I also watched 'Catch a fire' recently which I loved. Terry Pheto makes me happy. Why isn't she acting anymore? She's h0t! I'll also like to see Gugu & Andile and Izulu Lami, which has been dubbed South Africa's Slumdog Millionaire.

Here's a Nigerian movie from outside the Nollywood circuit that looks great. Relentless. Watch the trailer here. The movie featured Jimmy Jean Louis (who was the hotshot in Phat Girlz) and Nneka, the Nigerian-German singer who's been nominated for Channel O & MTV Africa Music Awards this year. It is set in Lagos. Another Naija movie to check out will be Arugba. Watch the trailer here. It seems to be your typical traditional West African movie (in Yoruba this time) but much better. We'll see.

We all know about Hotel Rwanda but what about another movie about the Rwandan genocide? Featuring some Rwandans. Rwanda, Le Jour Où Dieu est Parti en Voyage (Rwanda, the Day God Went on a Trip) was produced by Artemis and Mugho Productions in 2008 and features Rwanda's R&B/Zouk singer, Shanel. It's in French.

If you are looking for a few more Africans to see, you can start with the AMAA 2009 nominees. I am also looking for suggestions of great African movies that came out recently. So please do tell. Thanks.
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