Last Friday, I had a chance to attend the Valentine’s edition of DocuBox’s monthly event, Shorts, Shots and Shots.
As with every other edition before this one, the premise remained the same; guests come wearing shorts (although this isn’t compulsory), drink shots (alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available for sale), and DocuBox screens a selection of critically-acclaimed short films.
For this edition, DocuBox curated films on the theme of Valentine’s. The catalog had two Kenyan films, Nakupenda by NMK Films and For My Future Wife by Mufasa the Poet.
Here, we review the shorts that stood the critics’ eye test, ranking them from most favourite.
Part fantasy, part comedy, Samurai Blood is the epic story of a black samurai who is excommunicated by the Jesuits after he falls in love with a Japanese woman. The narrative is set in the past and present day, and begins when a young Japanese woman introduces her black boyfriend to her mother. She misinterprets her mother’s shock for racist prejudice but the mother later explains to her daughter after dinner that her disbelief was because she recognised the young man as a descendant of the black samurai. She also tells her that their great great great grandmother is the Japanese woman the samurai fell in love with.
In between scenes depicting the black samurai and the Japanese woman’s affair, are behind the scenes shots of the voice over actress, an inquisitive teenager baffled at the director’s selection for the role. She chides the director, expressing concern that she is neither black nor Japanese, therefore unfit for the role. Later, she remarks in jest that the story should’ve included an old wizard like Gandalf, as he would be more fitting as a narrator for the fantasy tale.
NMK’s production is a Wakandaesque romance between Princess Penda of Ndakhu kingdom and Prince Naku of Yanza kingdom. A royal wedding is in place, destined to formally unit the two kingdoms. However, things are not as they seem after Naku learns of his father’s intention to raid to the Ndakhu people. Naku’s father refuses to heed his son’s warning that an offense on Ndakhu will awaken the Huha, a powerful river spirit, and guardian of the Ndakhu.
The only unfortunate thing about Nakupenda, was that it was too short. It’s was a riveting drama, with great acting and beautiful costumes.
Our Kind of Love makes an argument for arranged marriages. The protagonists are Harun and Samira; the former a Londoner of Afghan origin, the latter an Afghan girl from the village. After a failed first marriage, Harun decides to do things the ‘Afghan way’, allowing his mother to pick his bride. At dinner, the two talk about why they chose each other – Harun telling her that it was because of her good-natured humour when they spoke on the phone, Samira telling him that it was because he gave her choice when he asked her if she wanted the marriage.
From the view of an overhead camera, we watched a time lapse video of the life cycle of a romantic relationship between college students. This was the most relatable film of the night. From the butterflies and spontaneity in the beginning, to the monotony and abrasion that heralds a break-up, to the doldrums post break-up, and finally moving on and finding joy.
Mufasa’s film was the last one for the night. The volume was a little too loud, but that didn’t spoil the beautiful imagery spun by Mufasa as he narrated a letter in the form of a poem, dedicated to his future wife.
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