Kenyan Film Actors headed To Hollywood
A film shot in the heart of Kibera in Nairobi is set to change the perception about the largest slum in eastern Africa.
No longer will it all be about poverty and crime, since Kibera will in January have two of its youth travel all the way to Hollywood, USA, for further training in film production.
Lost in Africa which has earned international recognition, premiered in Kenya this week, and is set to hit the big screens across the country. Already, the movie is the talk of towns in Denmark, USA, India and Canada, and has won several awards.
It features a large number of Kenyan actors in major roles which is also rare in a film about Africa. It focuses on 11-year-old (Simon Lougue Larsen) who is taken on a trip back to his native Kenya by his adopted Danish mother (Connie Nielsen).
Fredrick Odhiambo, 18, is among those who acted in the movie that has won more than five awards, including the Winner of Sarajevo Film Festival Best Film (Teen Arena), Amnesty International’s Best Film and Best Movie in Korea 2011.
“Together with other actors, we have been approached by Hollywood movie makers and I believe this is will be our turning point in life,” said Fredrick, who in the movie is Mr T — a young gangster out to ruin the life of Simon.
In the film, Simon was not interested in coming back to his native country and would have preferred to stay in Denmark to play soccer.
Indeed, on the very first day of arrival, things take a turn for the worse when he gets lost during the search for his beloved soccer ball. He is led into the thick of Kibera where he lands in the hands of youthful gangsters.
Says Mr T, now nicknamed Will Smith in Denmark where the movie emerged popular since its debut in October: “For long, Kibera and other slums have been associated with misfortune. I believe we will change that perception through the entertainment that will take us places.”
Lost in Africa has already been translated into Danish to reach a wider audience in Denmark.
The movie is constructed around the meeting between Simon and Amos, who both love soccer. Originally, they are from the same continent, the same city, the same slums, but fate has shaped their lives very differently after Simon was adopted, but Amos wasn’t. Now they meet around the ball.
According to film director, Ms Vibeke Muasya, she conceived the idea of the movie in 2006.
“My intention was to make an action-packed, entertaining children’s film with emotional involvement,” says Ms Muasya, a Dane married to a Kenyan.
She has stayed in the country for 23 years and so understands the challenges of Kenyan youth.
“Having worked on various movies in the world, I felt the idea could also offer opportunity for the talented youth in slum areas,” says Muasya who is planning to take two actors to Hollywood for a training in movie production and acting.
She is in partnership with the Hollywood award winning producer Ed Saxon who assigned her to work on the Kenyan movie.
Ms Muasya is also a writer and an accomplished choreographer in Denmark. The Northwest Nazarene University graduate has directed and produced several documentaries and short fiction films since 1999.
“I may not be a big person in Kenya but I feel that I’m a celebrity. It surprises us that our movie is doing well abroad yet in Kenya, few people know about it,” said Benard Okoth, who plays the role of the bad boy in the movie.