Jan 2010

Pre-Sundance Jitters

PUMZI got into Sundance!!!! What???? How amazing, blessed, exciting! I am still a little overwhelmed. I lie. A lot overwhelmed. In a good way.

So it starts…

Yesterday, I did an interview and the reporter asked if Science Fiction is new to Africa. Mmmmm… yes and no. If you listen to the stories that have been told for generations, elements of fantasy, science fiction have always existed within them. Honest… from cautionary tales of the ogre and the village beauty to the spirit child in Ben Okri’s novels and the fantastical world in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s books. It has been there. I am just a new generation of storyteller, using cinema as my tool. The genre means less to me than the story. PUMZI chose to be Sci-Fi. The story dictated the genre.

Now, I understand that cinema is young in East Africa and a touch older in South Africa but that is not necessarily true for the rest of the continent. Egypt has made films for the last 100 years. I’m sure somewhere in there, a couple, couple films have dealt with fantasy or science fiction. The pyramids themselves are Sci-Fi props, they must be. Another interview I did a while back in South Africa asked why I would chose to do a Sci-Fi film when there were so many other stories to tell. What? How does that make sense? First, the genre does not dictate the story. Second, (I can feel myself getting hot at the memory) who decides the limitations of imagination? What story am I supposed to tell? Is there a formula that I have to follow because I was born in Kenya? Really? Really????? Aurghhhhhhhhhhh…

PUMZI was launched at the Kenya International Film Festival (October 21, 2009). Although well received, the main criticism was that the film was not Kenyan enough (in story, execution, cast and crew). PUMZI was written in Kenya, directed by a Kenyan, funded by Germany, America and Kenya, produced and shot in South Africa with the leading actress from Botswana. It’s African. It’s Pan-African. Like the story. PUMZI is based on a futuristic Africa where borders cease to exist and the people who own the resources control the communities.  Familiar, no? But, should I make the feature, I would shoot in Kenya in the locations that first inspired it. Kenya never ceases to take my breath away. It’s majestic.

In a week I will be in Utah. Today it is 32°C in Mombasa. Next week I will be in -15°C weather. I don’t get jet-lagged. I get temperature-lag.

4 Responses to “Jan 2010”

  1. Francis Muriuki says:

    That’s a bold step Wanuri took with the crew and the cast members that helped “Pumzi” be a reallity. Film is another form of art that is not more than a century old, and like how stories are told and written, a persons immagination should not be limited just because one is from a certain region of the world.
    Wanuri is strong creative artist not only from Kenya but also from Africa and as a Kenyan, I am proud to say that she motivates my spirit to continue with my education in film. And the fact that she is making it, it is a prove that there are dreamers out there making it.

  2. Your site seems to be doing very well, carry on with the great work that you’ve done.

  3. Sarah Wanjiku Muhoho says:

    Its amazing what limitations the world has placed on Africa just by wrong attitudes. For this generation of filmmakers emerging I pray we continue to be different. I pray we continue to make Panafrican films…films without borders,isn’t that what Africa was from the very beginning before politics divided us?
    Sci-fi may feel foreign to people but I hope we keep exploring different and uncommon genres. How about creating new ones even?
    Authenticity of a film also comes from truth about a community or place and the truth is, if we as Africans do not take care of our land and environment that is slowly becoming a desert we shall not survive. Me, as a Kenyan filmmaker, I am so proud of you Wanuri. I’m ecstatic.

  4. Pumzi is astounding. The film manages to be both sparse and complete. Moreover, Pumzi prompts thinking about large-scale issues such as global warming and over-consumptions without being preachy or judgmental. This is a must-see film. Congrats Wanuri.

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