Kenyan Slum Film, Togetherness Supreme, Gets Great Review from Blogger

From http://www.pelleas.net/aniTOP/ (scroll down the page)

Togetherness Supreme (Kenya/USA, 2010, 94 min, Nathan Collett)

Perhaps one of the most admirable films I saw this year for the style of its production, this film was a product of collaboration with youths living in the slum of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, the largest slum in East Africa, a sprawling metropolis with a population of 170,000. The filmmakers had previously shot a short there entitled Kibera Kid. After the film, they established the Kibera Film School in the slum to help train youths in the fundamentals of professional filmmaking, and Togetherness Supreme is their follow-up, produced in collaboration with the youths studying at the Kibera Film School. Professionals from the west occupied key posts, but all of the other posts were handled by trainees from Kibera.

The script was written in a workshop in collaboration with some 50 Kibera youths. The story tells of an aspiring young artist who becomes involved in the campaigning leading up to the 2007 election that erupted in violence that killed more than 1000 and displaced tends of thousands throughout the country. It’s a panoramic examination of the corruption, ignorance and barely suppressed violence endemic on all sides and at the same time a story of two men battling for the love of one woman. It’s a great document of life in the slum and the dynamics of identity politics in a country in which how people treat each other is largely dictated by your tribal identity, and you cannot escape your identity, because your name betrays your tribe, as does whatever variety of Swahili-English “Sheng” slang you speak.

The style of the film is gritty, earthy, on-the-ground shaky-cam melodrama. It sometimes strains at the borders of amateurism due to its low budget and the nature of the production, but the characters come across as real and believable and the story deftly handled by the directing, which doesn’t sacrifice nuance for an obvious message. The images are colorful, vivid, lively. There is serenity and everyday life in the slum, and there are moments in which frenetic action breaks out, and the camera zips energetically through the nooks and crannies of the alleyways between the ramshackle dwellings. Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s a film that chooses to have hope rather than dwelling on how obviously bad things are, even though the situation in the country probably doesn’t merit optimism. It’s a remarkable picture of the experience of the people in Kibera, by the people – living proof of art as empowerment.

A film well worthy of support. Visit the official website to find out more.

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