This year’s Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) ceremony, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in early September, will be remembered by Kenya’s film and TV producers and actors for a number of years to come. And for good reason.
To begin with, Kenya walked away with a total of 6 awards on the night, with the awards coincidentally coming during the 6th edition of the annual AMVCA ceremony. Nice Wanjeri, known as Shiru on the comedy Auntie Boss was declared the Best Actress in Africa in a comedy and TV Series. Then there was Denis Maina Wanjohi whose documentary, “The Flesh Business”, was declared the Best Documentary.
(TOP: The cast of Auntie Boss, currently on Showmax).
The 6 awards are an indicator of the progress made in and by Kenya’s film and TV production industry and also a good testimony to the quality as well as diversity of the productions coming out of the country. And there are many other such quality productions not yet highlighted.
Here’s our pick:
“Tumetoka worlds tofauti sana. You don’t know who I am, you don’t know what I do…,” notes Nina (real name Avril Nyambura who is also a musician), one of the main actors, in the trailer of World Tofauti, the Kenyan movie that explores the challenges of dating from different social classes.
The 71-minute movie opens with Hinga (played by Innocent Njuguna), a reasonable and unassuming young man from a middle-class background, with a successful career to boot, while at a restaurant with his controlling and unreasonably assertive girlfriend, Shiru (Maureen Njau). The two have placed their orders for (different) drinks. When the waiter comes back with the wrong type of red wine for Shiru (she never told the waiter whether she wanted sweet or dry), she storms out of the restaurant, leaving Hinga behind. Less than a minute later, Hinga also leaves the hotel, then gets into his car, only to get a flat tire on his way home. That’s how their (different) paths – his and Nina’s – meet in World Tofauti.
From the theme of (forbidden) love in World Tofauti, we move to exploitation of girls and young women in The Flesh Business. The 60-minute documentary covers the lives of three young women who have been forced by circumstances – poverty, physical and sexual abuse at a young age – to get into prostitution on Kenya’s coast in order to earn their living.
Directed by Denis Maina Wanjohi, The Flesh Business has bagged and been nominated for various awards since its release in 2017. In September, the documentary won the Best Documentary award at the sixth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) while being nominated for the Coast Film Festival in Mombasa and the Mashariki Festival in Kigali, Rwanda. The production also made it to the 2017 Kalasha Awards and was among 24 documentary pilots selected for screening at the sixth edition of Discop Africa in Johannesburg.
(What Goes Around, one of the new movie additions on Showmax).
We are still on the theme of unsafe places and people (mainly women) using sex to earn their living (just like in The Flesh Business above). And here now is What Goes Around, a short movie that revolves around Sally (Maureen Njau), an HIV-positive lady who – in her desperate attempt to secure a job – decides to sleep with rich businessman Jacob Manccini Mwahime (Kang’ethe Mungai). But they don’t use any form of contraception, which is not entirely her fault.
But the 12-minute movie (or infomercial, as it’s meant to create awareness around the spread of Aids among married couples and those in stable relationships) later takes a twist when Sally discovers that Jacob is in fact the husband to her friend, Shiko (Ruth Wacuka). Apart from knowing her HIV status, Shiko sold intravenous drugs to Sally the day she slept with Jacob.
(Joyce Maina as she plays ‘Aisha’ on Showmax).
And closing with the subject of exploitation of girls by society, there’s Aisha (played by Joyce Maina), the story of a 17-year-old girl, waiting to join college, whose father decides to marry her off to a suitor against her wishes. The suitor is Bwana Mshefa, a man her father’s age who also happens to be his friend. The father’s motivation to marry off Aisha is due to the family’s dire financial position and his belief that having Bwana Mshefa as a son-in-law could help turn around the family’s fortunes.
Aisha earned Joyce Maina the ‘Best Actress’ nomination at last year’s Kalasha Awards, an annual event organised by the Kenya Film Commission to recognise and celebrate outstanding actors and productions.
As always, our list of what we consider the best productions out of Kenya which are currently available on Showmax should not dictate what you choose to stream on the platform. The choice is yours. That’s why we request you to sign in and select what suits you.