The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: New Poll Violence Film Pricks Kenya's Conscience

"The characters in this story are fictional. The story is not." That is the disclaimer that comes right before Judy Kibinge, Mungai Kiroga and JC Niala take warranted liberties and bundle film lovers on an 85-minute multilingual emotional rollercoaster ride. After Nairobi Half Life, the One Fine Day Film Workshop project has given birth to another noteworthy film, Something Necessary.

Produced by Tom Tykwer, Ginger Wilson and Sarika Lakhani, the film introduces you to a woman who has no choice but to muster the will to live after a gang of men attacks her family, kills her husband, rapes her and sets her house on fire. All she has left are a comatose son (Benjamin Nyagaka), his medical bills, a destroyed farm and her husband's ghost. Ann (Susan Wanjiku) is a Kikuyu woman who was married to a Kalenjin man, Steve (Martin Njoroge), until that night when her tribe became an excuse for rape and pillage.

The film is set in Nakuru right after the post election violence. Tension is high and there are fears that her farm, The Haven, may be attacked again. Despite this Ann chooses to stay on and rebuild her life, ignoring a relentless sister, Gathoni (Ann Kimani), who wants her to leave the accursed place and a strange brother-in-law, Lesit (David Kiprotich Mutai), who has much to gain from her abandoning The Haven.

While in the process of putting things back in order, she has to come to terms with the truth about her husband, his family and the revelation that she is pregnant courtesy of the men who violently raped her. The decision she makes regarding the pregnancy elicits respect for the artistic boldness of the scriptwriters and the director of the film. Kibinge, whose filmography includes Dangerous Affair and the documentary Peace Wanted Alive, plays brilliant dramatic tricks on most of the scenes written by Kiroga and Niala.

Walter Kipchumba Lagat did a great job portraying a repentant antagonist. Unassuming and brave in his own soft spoken right, he plays Joseph, a member of the gang that attacked The Haven. Bothered by his conscience, he leaves the gang and the rest of the members give him a lot of flak for abandoning their cause but he chooses to redeem himself by doing the best he can to make Ann's process of rebuilding the farm easier. As the film progresses, we meet his girlfriend and the fact that he is able to love her with all his heart and money creates an almost schizophrenic contrast with the young man who raped a woman because she was from a different community.

Casting for the film was done by Nini Wacera who put together a cast of 25 that included Eddy Kimani. Laudable cast members are the newbies: Elisha Kiprotich, Justus Ngeno, Shadrack Korir, Mathias Nyamai, Alfred Rono, Felis Kipkemboi and Kennedy Kwambai who made for quite a ruthless gang, with a sickening sense of humour. Their characters being young men paid in cash and liquor to take their land back from the people who stole it.

Something Necessary comes at a time when it is indeed necessary. One can only hope and pray that the people, who really need to watch it, get a chance to see it before the elections. Aside from the more serious forgive but don't forget message it carries, it has a cute, romantic albeit small angle that teaches a thing or two about buying mobile phone airtime for a girlfriend who does not have a phone.

The film premieres at 6.45pm today at Century Cinemax and The Junction Mall in Nairobi. Tickets will be sold Sh450.

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