Kenyan film calling for broad distribution


Kenyan film Togetherness Supreme is a completed feature film (93 minutes) about violence which followed the disputed elections in Jan-March 2007 in Kenya , and left 1300 dead and over 350000 displaced. One of the areas for the violence in 2007 was the massive slum of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. Now this new film tells the story of the post-election violence through the eyes of those who witnessed it. Shot on the Red One Camera, Togetherness Supreme is the first community-based feature film made in an urban slum in Africa.

Sylvain Beletre of Balancing Act interviewed Nathan Collett, Director, Co-writer, and Co-producer, Mercy Murugi, Producer and Pamela Collett who is in charge of communications.

Q: What are the film’s key topics?

Nathan Collett: Togetherness Supreme tells a story of hope and reconciliation based on the lives of three youth from three different tribes living in a mega slum in Nairobi, Kenya.  The story is based on actual events and was written, cast, filmed and edited by and with residents of Kibera. Togetherness Supreme is a showcase for the amazing talents within Kibera, east Africa’s largest slum.

Q: What are the film’s positive outcomes?

Mercy Murugi: the film clearly promotes peace, non-violence and the aspirations of the youth for tribal unity. Every time we screen the film in slums throughout Nairobi, the audience tells us again and again that we must show Togetherness Supreme throughout Kenya and beyond to promote tribal unity and peace.

Another breakthrough is the sense of pride and ownership that Kibera residents, especially the youth have, knowing that they made a film of outstanding quality. They are excited to see their community and their lives on the big screen.  A further positive development is to ensure ongoing filmmaking, Hot Sun Films/Foundation started the first ever slum film school in Kibera.

Q: How long did it take to make the film?

Nathan Collett: The casting, rehearsals, shooting, and initial editing took less than a year.  The final stages of post production took several additional months.  However, the script of Togetherness Supreme script is the culmination of three years of research and development in collaboration with the youth of Kibera.

Q: How did you fund the film?

We received several grants, including two grants from Freedom to Create  (Singapore), one from Cinereach (New York), a co-production grant from CNAC (a cultural parastatal in Venezuela,  a grant from a private family trust, as well as funds for distribution in Kenya from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi.

Mercy Murugi: Including the screenings, the budget has now moved to about US$600,000

Q: Did you get media coverage when the film was launched?

Pamela Collett: Yes, both internationally and locally. The preview in Nairobi was covered by all major local TV stations. We even got a week long visit from Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation from South Korea who did a documentary on Hot Sun Foundation, Kibera Film School and Togetherness Supreme.
Q: How will you distribute the film?

Nathan Collett: As of now, we do not have any distribution deals outside of Kenya . We are looking for more international partners in distribution and for TV-broadcast. We started in a unique way. We started with free open-air screenings to the communities in Nairobi, especially those in the informal settlements most affected by the themes of the film.

So far over 26,000 people have seen Togetherness Supreme in the community previews. We have just started the process of festival submission…and soon planning a theatrical release in Kenya. Then wider distribution, so we are looking for partners!

Pamela Collett: To date Togetherness Supreme is being shown at mass outdoor screenings in slum communities throughout Nairobi and will be touring communities in Kenya as part of the ongoing process building peace and reconciliation.

Mercy Murugi: We have been accepted in Vancouver (Canada) Film Festival and will be showing the film in film festivals around the world. We will also work with institutions around the world to screen the film, especially in areas where they have no access to cinemas.

Q: Did the film get any awards

Mercy Murugi: The film was nominated for the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA 2010) in 4 categories - Best Film in an African Language, Best Performance by a Child Actor, Most Promising Actress, and Most Promising Actor, which were held in Nigeria in April 2010. These are the ‘Oscars’ of Africa. We won in two categories, Best Performance by a Child Actor and Most Promising Actor.

Q: what was the public’s reaction?

Pamela Collett: At every outdoor slum screening in Kibera and elsewhere in Nairobi , the film has had tremendous turnouts, with people standing, waiting for hours to see it, even in rain and cold weather. Here are some comments from viewers in Kibera:

 “I pray for the movie Togetherness Supreme to go on, to encourage, to show people, to remind them they may become peaceful.” A 38-year-old male

 “I liked the originality, the characters, (in Togetherness Supreme). They were real, they spoke Sheng (local dialect/slang). They did not force themselves to speak languages they did not know…I think people can see the other side of Kibera.”
A 22-year-old male

I liked that people were working together despite coming from different tribes…People will see that there is talent also in Kibera, and they can support them.” A 19-year-old female

 “The movie itself (Togetherness Supreme) can make somebody change from wrong to right.”A 37-year-old man