Women in Media Segment – Series 1 Episode 2
Indigo Tongues features Wanuri Kahiu
Award winning Kenyan Filmmaker, Wanuri Kahiu catches up with Indigo Tongues in Nairobi for a candid interview about working and living life as a filmmaker.
Wanuri Kahiu is a young filmmaker who has already made strides in the film world both internationally and in her home country of Kenya. After acquiring a degree from Warwick University in the UK, she went on to receive an MFA in Film directing from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
Wanuri is best known for her feature length film “From a Whisper” which won Best Feature Film at the LA Pan African film Festival in 2010 and also won Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the 2009 AMAA – African Movie Academy Awards. Her short film “Pumzi” funded partially by Focus Features’ Africa First short film program is considered to be Kenya’s first science fiction film. “Pumzi” won the Best Short film category at the Cannes Independent Film Festival in 2010.
Her films have been screened at the Sundance Film festival (considered the mecca for indie film lovers) as well as other internationally recognized film festivals. One of her earlier works was a documentary for M-Net “Great Africans” series, about the life of the late Wangari Maathai, Nobel peace prize laureate and Kenya’s most hardworking and industrious environmentalist.
About the interview:
My trip to Kenya was conceived, planned and executed within a month and the idea of getting in touch with Wanuri Kahiu whilst I was out there crossed my mind. Her film “From a Whisper” was the opening night film at the 2010 WOCAF Festival.
I didn’t think I would have enough time to interview her, so I did not travel with a professional camera as my trip was just for a week in which I also had to fit in a weekend in London. I emailed Wanuri on my arrival in Nairobi but didn’t get a response immediately. By some stroke of good luck, my guardian angel on my trip “Andrew” so happened to know her and called her on my behalf, two days before I was due to leave. That same day she had also responded to the email I sent her, which I received when I got back to my hotel room. So it seemed the stars were in alignment. There was still the issue though of me not having the right camera to conduct the interview.
I didn’t want to miss this opportunity of interviewing Wanuri, so I thought I would just have to make do with the cameras I had on me and make the most of the situation. Wanuri did not hesitate to be interviewed and made time to fit me in at short notice to meet the day before I was due to leave.
Thankfully before I embarked on my journey, my dear friend GB had advised me that whenever I conducted an interview, I should use my cell phone to capture the sound as a backup plan and sho nuff, It came in handy. I met Wanuri at a popular mall in Nairobi and she came along with her baby daughter who took part in the interview as you will hear as you watch.
This interview was done real guerilla style! Armed with a flip video camera, my cell phone and a digital camera used for taking photographs (but with movie recording capabilities), we tried to look for a quite spot in the mall to conduct the interview. Not an easy task! We found a business center and asked the office manager if we could conduct the interview there He agreed but on the condition that I paid the fee that was standard for using the center. I thought this was a fair deal and paid for an hour.
The location was a bit noisy so we found a semi quiet spot on the 2nd floor of the center. With Andrew’s help, we created a makeshift area to set up the camera. We used some boxes as a tripod and I got on my knees with my flip video to get a second angle of her. The “saviour” cell phone rested on a sofa next to Wanuri to capture her audio. We were all set for this impromptu interview.
It was all worth it in the end as the interview with her went like a breeze. Wanuri comes across as a person that is ahead of her time, an old soul with wisdom beyond her years. I found her to be very accommodating, professional and humble all at the same time. The interview was more than I could have asked for, and even though the footage wasn’t clean and crisp like I would like it, Wanuri’s words made up for all of that.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the whole process of making this happen!
Interview Date: January 31st 2013
Location : Nakumatt Junction Mall, Nairobi, Kenya
Producer/Director: Mojisola Sonoiki
Editor: Oluwaseun Sonoiki (Sheffy Productions)
Camera: Mojisola Sonoiki
Interviewer: Mojisola Sonoiki
Indigo Tongues Logo: Blugge Design Studios
Music Credit: Ha-He/Just A Band (source, Internet)
Trailer for Pumzi and From a Whisper (source: Internet)
WOCAF Festival Archives
TEDx Nairobi footage (source: tedxnairobi.com)
Q & A WOCAF Footage (source: Kehinde Akomolede-thompson/ Oupipeestudios Studios)
This interview was set to be launched on our blog in October. We decided to postpone it to pay homage to all the victims of the Westgate Mall Attack in Nairobi.
*In memory of all those that lost their lives at the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi Oct 2013