I always look forward to seeing new Kenyan movies. Cinema is a great platform for Kenyan filmmakers to express themselves creatively and contribute to contemporary culture. It’s also a chance to inspire a generation of young Kenyan kids and show them that their stories can be just as good as those coming out of Hollywood.
The latest Kenyan project receiving attention is Mbithi Masya’s Kati Kati (which translates from Swahili to The Middle). Tom Tykwer’s One Fine Day Film Project which produced the critically acclaimed Nairobi Half Life is also behind this one. It is Masya’s first feature-length film since making the transition from music (with Just A Band). He also gets co-writer credits alongside Mugambi Nthiga— one of the many Half Life alumni to be involved in Kati Kati.
The movie opens with a young lady who wakes up in a place called ‘Kati Kati’ (which serves as purgatory) with no memory of her life or what led to her death. There she finds other people who have also died and are trying to figure out the same thing. The rest of the film follows three main characters Kaleche, Thoma and Mikey played by Nyokabi Gethaiga, Elsaphan Njora, and Paul Ogola respectively. Each has their own plotline that plays out during the film. All three actors are excellent throughout.
Another plus is the cinematography. This is a well shot movie. Every scene is captured brilliantly with cool icy tones. The film aims to tell a unique and layered story about reconciling with one’s past and accepting the present. The cinematography helps bring this to life in a captivating and effective manner.
There are a few minor issues with the film, most notably the script. There are scenes where the story needs to be expounded but is constantly cut short. Instead, these key plot points are pushed aside leaving more questions than answers. Like where do they go after? Where is King (Peter King Mwania) banished to? And some of them have been dead longer than the time they’ve spent in Kati Kati, so why are they entering now?
Another drawback is that some of the characters are a tad bit underdeveloped, which could have been resolved by cutting out some of the unnecessary scenes in favour of ones that built the story and characters.
All said, Kati Kati is definitely a step in the right direction for Riverwood. I strongly recommend that you go see it and show your support to everyone involved in making it.