There is no part of myself that has not been involved in the making PUMZI. PUMZI has invaded my every thought, my dreams, my senses. PUMZI has been my heart and it’s rhythm.
The film started as a joke. A friend and I pondered the possibility of living in a place where we paid for air. We invented the city, the virtual natural museums, the people. That was over 2 years, many tears, much frustration and several re-writes before the film was ready to go into production. At some point, the Universe (with help from Kisha Cameron) conspired and introduced me to the Producers of the film and it was a perfect fit. They were passionate about the project, profoundly knowledgeable about Sci-Fi and exceptionally generous with their expertise and resources. During pre-production one potential crewmember commented that making Pumzi (based on the budget and the ambition we had) was like âpulling a rabbit out of a chicken’s ass’. Naturally he wasn’t hired, but the crew who were went above and beyond what was expected.
A week before the shoot was scheduled to start we had not cast the lead character, Asha. And then Kudzani Moswela walked in. Her audition, her presence and her excitement for life dissipated any doubt. She was Asha. She breathed into the film unimaginable softness and courage. She became the heart of my heart. Her interpretation of Asha and the story was painfully tender and through it new, undiscovered layers of the film came alive.
Now, years, months and many painful Visual Effects hours later, Pumzi is finished. More beautiful, more poignant, more charming than anyone expected. Pumzi is a visual ode to life. A life that (as described by Lorraine Hansberry) â has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is loveâ. Pumzi is the essence of all these. Pumzi is my breath.
In 2008, Wanuri completed her first feature film From A Whisper based on the real life events surrounding the August 7, twin bombings of US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. The film recently won awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture, the Golden Dhow award for Best East African Picture at Zanzibar International Film Festival and Best Film at Kalasha, Kenya Film and TV awards. Shortly after she completed a documentary about the life of Nobel peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai entitled For Our Land (2009) for M-Net âGreat Africansâ Series. She has recently completed a short Science Fiction Film Pumzi (2009) that was partially funded by Focus Features (part of NBC universal), Goethe Institut and Changa Moto Fund in Kenya.