Over the years, there has been a tremendous improvement in the Kenyan film industry. Its undeniable that the film industry is getting bigger and better. When it comes to creativity, the cast, script writing, cinematography and the sound, its clear that Kenya’s film industry is a force to reckon with.
Kenyan movies that won the hearts of Kenyans
Pulse Live sampled some of the Kenyan movies that entertained and moved Kenyans, and here is the list we came up with;
Nairobi Half life
Nairobi Half life, is a Kenyan drama that featured Mwas (Joseph Wairimu), a talented aspiring actor from upcountry who moved to the City to pursue his dream but instead tribulations forced him to join downtown crooks.
Mwas is then caught up between following his dream and earning fast money.
The movie directed by David "Tosh" Gitonga depicted the harsh reality of life in Nairobi and life in the slums which involves robbery, drugs, prostitution and the rot in the police system.
Supa Modo, a movie by One Fine Day films is one of the movies that touched people’s hearts and moved them to tears. It is inspiring and encouraged people of finding happiness even in the darkest of times.
Supa Modo which is set in the village of Maweni is about a little girl Jo (Stycie Waweru) who has dreams of becoming a superhero but is instead threatened by a terminal illness. Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia) her sister collaborates with the entire village to set up a series of incidents to help her believe that she has powers to save them all. Jo, however, ends up discovering their scheming tactics but plays along to keep her community happy.
The magical film which celebrated Kenyan music and Kikuyu dialogue as well was undeniably a beautiful sad movie.
Watu wote (All of us) is a short film that was released in 2017, after Al-Shabaab attacked a bus in Mandera and killed non-Muslims.
The short film features Jua (Adelyne Wairimu) a Christian who boards a bus to visit a relative but her journey is cut short when a violent terrorist group Al-Shabaab, stop the bus and demands the Muslims to identify Christian passengers.
In the movie the Muslims refused to identify the Christians and instead protected them. The female Muslims gave the Christian women and children their hijabs.
The film was a major lesson that bravery and solidarity can win in the face of terror.
This was the first Kenyan film nominated in the category of the best short live-action film at the 90th Oscars.
Katikati is a Kenyan drama film directed by Mbithi Masya that tells the story of Kaleche (Nyokabi Gethaiga), who wakes up in a small village with no memory of her life or who she is.
It later turns out that she is dead and the village she is in (Katikati) is full of dead people. A ghost (Elsaphan Njora), helps her to assimilate her life after death.
This was a very interesting, creative film that made people think more about the afterlife and whether everyone gets carry their baggage to the other side of the world.
This was the First movie to win an international award.
Plan B revolves around Lisa (Sarah Hassan), who after getting dumped decided to head to the bar to drain her sorrows and after a drinking binge with a stranger, Lisa gets pregnant after a one-night stand with Dele Coker (Daniel Etim).
She then confides in her cheeky friend Joyce (Catherine Kamau) and together they find out that Dele is a successful and wealthy Nigerian man.
Joyce then plans how they will force Dele to pay for child support and Lisa’s upkeep. The plot takes an unexpected twist at the end.
The 60-minute movie was hilarious and entertaining. The soundtrack was amazing as well as Nairobi’s skyline during the day and the sunsets.
In a country that doesn’t support same sex relationship, director Wanuri Kahiu outdid herself as she told the story of Kena and Ziki, two women who fell in love, a midst family and political pressures around LGBT rights in Kenya.
The girls find themselves between a rock and a hard place as they are forced to chose between safety and love.
The Kenyan drama film, however came with a lot of controversy as Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) banned the movie for promoting lesbianism in Kenya, contrary to the law.
When the trailer dropped, everyone was talking about this movie. Directed by one of the award-winning directors from Nairobi Half life Tosh Gitonga, the film showcased Celine (Brenda Wairimu) trying to find love in the controversial Nairobi dating scene.
Her boyfriend Josh (Nick Mutuma), plays as a nice guy and his best friend from childhood. Their friends who have different intriguing personalities, try to hold them down and help build their chemistry, but will their chemistry build up?
The film that was released in 2018 fascinated people from the casting who involved some of the big actors in the country, to the fashionable outfits and the musical soundtrack.
The film was chilled, hilarious and had a sense of sexual expression as they bravely bought a sex toy to the screen and had an actual conversation about it. It was very relatable especially with the complicated relationships, situationships and friend zones that we have nowadays.
Disconnect became the third Kenyan movie to make it to Netflix, an international streaming platform.
Set in Maua Town, Veve is another great movie by One Fine Day film and Ginger Ink which revolves around love, revenge, greed, betrayal, politics and power.
The movie features Amos (Lowry Odhiambo) an ambitious immoral politician who dreams of becoming the most powerful MP through his involvement with Miraa trade.
Amos’ greed however, pits him against Wadu, a shadowy businessman who exports Miraa and also wants to extend his Veve empire. His wife Esther ((Lizz Njagah), seeks solace in Kenzo (Emo Rugene), an ex-convict out to seek vengeance for his father’s death, but unknown to her, he is her husband’s grim reaper and she ends up starting an affair with him.
The movie revolves around drama and shows the danger people can put others in, in pursuit of their dreams.
Soul boy is a Drama that features Fourteen-year-old Abila (Samson Odhiambo) who is on a quest to save his father who sold his soul to a witch.
Abila searches and confronts the witch Nyawawa (Krysteen Savane). who promises to return the soul if he can complete seven arduous tasks in 24 hours. Abila strives to beat the deadline in order to save his father.
The film which was shot in Kibera gives you a thrilling, intriguing experience of a courageous boy defying all odds to bring back his father.
Award winning Kenyan Movie, 18 hours is a drama film that was inspired by the tribulations of Alex Madaga, who was involved in an accident three years ago and died untreated in an ambulance.
The movie features Nick Ndeda and Brian Ogola who act as Kenyan paramedics stuck with a road accident victim for 18 hours because they can’t find an available hospital.
The grueling journey as they try to find a hospital is heartbreaking and sad.
You again, a movie directed and Produced by Nick Mutuma is about two college sweethearts who find themselves in a dilemma after being paired up as co-news anchors at a leading TV station 7 years after their awful break up.
These ex lovebirds must find a way to work together in a professional capacity regardless of how annoying they find each other.
The relatable film written and also co-directed by by Natasha Likimani featured other big names in the industry like; Nick Mutuma, Lenana Kariba, Neomi Nganga, Kush Tracy, Fareed Khimani among others.
The romantic comedy was hilarious and entertaining.
A Nick Mutuma directed movie Sincerely Daisy became the second Kenyan movie to make it to Netflix and officially premiered on the streaming platform on October 9, 2020.
Sincerely Daisy – tells the story of a happy high School graduate’s dream, romance and confidence- are shaken when family and relationship drama put her plans for future in doubt.
The Sincerely Daisy cast include, Ellah Maina, Jackie Matubia, Foi Wambui, Mbeki Mwalimu, BRIAN ABAJAH, Muthoni Gathegi, AKA Psenjen, Serah Wanjiru, Francis Ouma, James Webbo, and Kagambi Nass.
Softie was written and directed by Sam Soko and produced by Toni Kamau. The film follows Boniface Mwangi’s life, through his activism, protests and attempts to enter Kenya’s political scene. It also explores the impact his activism has had on his life and family.
The film captures Boniface Mwangi’s journey through the 2017 election period. Despite coming face to face with numerous political hurdles, he decides to soldier on with support from his wife, Njeri.
Soko initially intended to create a short film but at some point, he decided to fully capture Mwangi’s protests through the streets, his activism and campaign journey.
The film premiered in January 2020 at Sundance where it proceeded to win the special jury prize for editing. The film got overwhelming response and consequently, won the Best Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival 2020.
Mission To Rescue
Mission to Rescue is a Kenyan Military Action Movie set along the Kenya- Somali border. Alusa who is the lead character in the movie plays Captain Baraza, the leader of an elite command group within the Kenya Army.
The movie’s story revolves around radicalisation of the youth and the fight against terrorists, which has gained prominence in Kenya since the start of the last decade with the rise of Al Shabaab in Somalia.
Captain Baraza and his Special Forces troops are suddenly called into action when an Assistant County Commissioner and two others are abducted by the Al-Shabaab militia.
Mission to rescue stems from the story of a French woman who was kidnapped by the Al-Shabab. The movie was Created in 2019.
The film’s star-studded cast features; Melvin Alusa, Warsame Abdi, Abdi Yusuf, Emmanuel Mugo, Andreo Kamau, Abubakar Mwenda, Sam Psenjen, Anthony Ndung’u, Bilal Mwaura, Justin Mirichi, Abajah Brian, Melissa Kiplagat, Brian Ogola, and Mwamburi Maole.
Poacher is a 2018 Kenyan/British short film directed by Tom Whitworth. The film received wide international attention after its release in Netflix in September 2020. It also became the first ever Kenyan film to be released via Netflix.
‘40 Sticks’ 4th Kenyan film to feature on Netflix, after Poacher, Sincerely Daisy and Disconnect,,
‘40 Sticks’, based on a fictional story created by Frank G. Maina, was directed by Victor Gatonye, written by Voline Ogutu with Fakii Liwali as executive producer.
Gatonye has previously directed Dreamchild (Kenyan feature film), Kina (TV series on Maisha Magic+), Sunrise (TV series on Showmax), East and Women of Obiero (both TV films on Showmax).
The cast includes Robert Agengo, Bilal Mwaura, Shivisi Shivske, Andreo Kamau, Cajetan Boy, Xavier Ywaya, Mumbi Maina, Gerald Langiri and Bruce Makau.
The ’40 Sticks’ thriller revolves around eight death row inmates trapped in a crashed prison bus striving to stay alive while a mysterious killer lurks in the shadows.
Crime and Justice
In this Kenyan police procedural, detectives Silas and Makena safeguard the streets of Nairobi. Dealing with all manner of crime, they must learn to trust each other's instincts in the pursuit of justice.
Crime and Justice also stars Maqbul Mohammed, Paul Ogola, Brian Ogola and newcomer Koome Kinoti in recurring roles, with guest stars like Brian Abajah, Martin Githinji. Justin Mirichii, Foi Wambui, Brenda Mwai, and Fareed Khimani.
Directed by Adam Neutzsky-Wulff working with an all-Kenyan production crew, Crime and Justice is written by Pauline Inda, Anthony Nero and award-winning Kenyan filmmakers Brian Munene (Watu Wote: All of Us, Morning After), Njue Kevin (18 Hours, Intellectual Scum) and Serah Mwihaki (Nairobi Half Life, Kidnapped).
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