Covid-19 Films Entertainment Film Film Critique Film Review Kenyan Cinema Radicalization

Boxing Radicalization out of Kenya

Film poster for Coachez

Globally, the first two decades of the 21st Century will probably be best remembered for concerted efforts to fight terrorism, with terrorist groups taking advantage of technological advances to intensify their deadly activities. Closer home, Kenya has spent the better part of the last decade fighting the increasing radicalization of our youth by the Al Shabaab terror group, which is said to have active terror cells here and in neighboring Somalia. This is the background of the newly released short film Coachez, produced as part of an anti-radicalization campaign by Jiongoze Project, a local non-profit.

Niaje wasee, this month on 7th Furahiday mchana , tunawaletea sinema fupi ...”Coachez “ right here on Facebook free to...

Posted by Jiongoze Project on Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Coachez trailer

The 13-minute film was premiered on Saturday, 7th August on Facebook Live, and is available for viewing on Jiongeze Project’s Facebook page. Digital premieres are fast becoming the norm while cinemas remain closed as the Covid-19 sting continues to itch film makers locally and across our borders. The film follows Coach Adam, who runs a community gym where he offers boxing lessons to youth in his home area. This is meant to keep them engaged and off the streets where all manner of vices await them, from drugs, crime, violence, and lately, radicalization. A former boxer turned extremist recruit shows up and offers the young boxers money in exchange for ‘opportunities’ abroad, which is how they are lured to join terrorist groups.

Community screening to sensitize against radicalization

One of the boys, Rama, is a focused and disciplined boxer who trains consistently and faithfully heeds Coach Adam’s counsel, although his family background offers strong temptation to accept money offers from the recruiter. His mother is desperately looking for rent as the landlord is constantly on her case, with their humble abode showing their limited economic resources. Coachez has to stand helplessly and see his young boxers being lured by money, since the best he can offer them is training and qualification for boxing tournaments, yet what they all desperately need is money. He decides to focus on the promising Rama and save at least one boy since the others are more interested in the money being offered by the recruiter.

Not My Son: Short film by Jiongoze on radicalization

The film exposes the desperate situation most young people in low income areas find themselves in, where they have little hopes of escaping the poverty cycle as they helplessly watch their parents trying to fend for them. Any opportunity for a better life is highly sought after, with their zeal and drive to overcome their challenges making them easy bait for recruiters from extremist groups. The war on terror keeps claiming young peoples’ lives and this prompts these terror groups to go recruiting new blood promising them financial freedom and a chance at a new beginning. For those who fall prey to this call, life is as good as over, as they become outlaws shunned by family and friends as terrorists. Coach Adam represents efforts by parents and the society in trying to protect this vulnerable demographic by providing them with alternative activities to keep them occupied.

Mural highlighting radicalization fight

The short film employs clever lighting techniques to create the different emotional paths the film takes us through, with well thought out camera work that contributes effectively to the delivery of the story. The language used is relatable to the film’s target audience with young viewers resonating with the Sheng used which is critical for the communicative value of the film, seeing as it’s meant to raise awareness on this thorny issue. The production design is also credible with the gym looking like your regular mtaani gym, complete with the relic radio used to receive news updates. The sound is well done, with credible sound mixing and editing. Coachez is a film that all youth need to watch to comprehend how easy it is to be lured to the dark side, and parents would also do well to explore how recruitment happens to put in place measures to safeguard their vulnerable sons and daughters.

Covid-19 Films Entertainment Film Kenyan Cinema

Automedic Film Captures Kenya Covid-19 Experience

An engine rumbles. A phone dials. The scene opens up to a rustic scene where an old mabati house on the foreground gives us the first glimpse of the action. As the camera dollies in, a makeshift ICU bed outside the house heightens our curiosity as an old lorry appears to be the source of power for the makeshift ICU bed. The camera reveals an innovating mix of the energy source, showing a truck battery, an old radio synonymous with Kenyan homes, what looks like a damaged smart phone, amongst other contraptions connected to an extension cable that seems to be holding together this delicate innovation.

These are the first few seconds of David Waronja’s latest award-winning film Automedic, a five-minute pulsating story of a young man who goes against all odds to become a self-trained doctor, lab technician and nurse to his ailing sister Wambui. This is after Covid-19 has happened and he has been laid off work, and can’t maintain the househelp, and has no funds to take his sister to the hospital. His medical adventures receive a baptism by fire when he runs out of fuel to power his innovation, and George (pronounced Joji), his nduthi guy, delivers the wrong type of fuel instead of petrol which leads to a nerve-wracking climax as the desperate young man takes time head on in a race to save his sister’s life. The film, delivered in Kikuyu language and shot in a typical Kenyan homestead, strikes a chord with the regular Kenyan due to its common mwananchi feel, sharing what regular broke Kenyans go through.

The film has received over nine thousand views on YouTube since it was posted in July. It has gone on to receive rave reviews from the Kenyan film fraternity, with many marveling at the ingenuity of the entire movie being filmed in one clean shot, and on a mobile phone! Waronja, who is the writer, director, cinematographer and editor of the film, manages to capture the true Kenyan essence during this Covid-19 period where media reports show that majority of Kenyans fear going to hospital for fear of contracting the dreaded virus, preferring to self-treat at home. The economic challenges the youth are facing after being laid off from work also come into play as the lead character reveals he was laid off work, and had to fire the househelp too.

David Waronja, the writer, director, cinematographer and editor of Automedic

But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. The young man has immersed himself in innovation books which have enabled him take care of the sister at home. On a larger scale, we have witnessed Kenyan youth at the forefront of proposing Covid-19 solutions, with university students developing ventilators, youth being the core innovators of creative jua kali handwashing solutions, and being engaged by manufacturing companies to produce masks and other personal protective equipment, as reported on both mainstream and social media. Automedic has managed to capture all these sentiments in a poignant yet eye-opening manner that prompts us to accept the new normal and start seeking solutions as opposed to complaining.

It was a delightful afternoon when we hosted the top 3 winners of the third edition of #MyKenyaMyStory who were happy to...

Posted by Kenya Film Commission on Wednesday, July 29, 2020

While awarding the winners, KFC CEO Mr. Tim Owase noted that: ‘My Kenya My Story is within the Commission’s commitment of growing Kenya’s film industry, while focusing on application of affordable technology in storytelling.’ The awards were done virtually and aired on NTV, where the Cabinet Secretary for ICT and Youth Affairs, Mr. Joe Mucheru was the Chief Guest, accompanied by the Chief Administrative Secretary Ms. Maureen Mbaka. The CS urged Kenyans to embrace storytelling using mobile devices to tell transformational Kenyan stories, while pledging the support of President Uhuru Kenyatta in promoting the film industry. All twenty shortlisted films are available on the KFC YouTube channel.