The Donkey That Carried The Cloud On Its Back

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© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

Director: Philippa Ndisi-Hermann
Producer: Atieno Odenyo
Category: Documentary
Language: English
Crowdfunding period: 12th of November – 22th of December

The International Documentary Film Festival and CineCrowd present a special crowdfunding campaign from Kenya: The Donkey that Carried the Cloud on its Back. The film, by Philippa Ndisi Hermann and Atieno Odenyo also received financial support from the IDFA Bertha Fund and participated in the IDFA WorldView Summer School last July.

This documentary feature film is about the Kenyan island, Lamu, which is an island frozen in time. Now, Africa’s largest port is being constructed there. It was once a rich trading town and the East African coast gave rise to a new culture and a new people – the Swahili. Lamu town survived and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

The port foundation stone was laid last year. At a cost of 3.5 billion USD, the port will be capable of handling ships almost half the size of the island of up to 100,000 tonnes. Lamu Island has one car and more than 3000 donkeys. Electricity is provided by generators and there is no modern water sewage system. Marginalised economically by mainland Kenya. Lamu relies on tourism where backpackers rub shoulders with the Princess of Monaco.

foreboding change

The use of still photos in the documentary is so as to evoke the possibility of foreboding change. © Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

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A baptism at the shore of the Indian Ocean. Lamu island is predominantly Muslim. The Baptists came from a town 1000 km away. Aug 2013
© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

The advent of the port is giving rise to land speculations, to environmental concerns, to the influx of people, change is coming, change is needed. Is this what the port will bring?

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© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

The Donkey that Carried the Cloud on its Back documents and observes life before the marriage of people and land.  What this new life will bring we do not know. It is a quirky and impressionist film about an island which appears not to change yet a looming cloud is approaching and breaking the steadiness and surety of the island’s constant way of life. Bracketed by the two monsoon rains, the film follows Fatuma as she prepares to begin a new life and get married and concludes as she leaves her parents’ house to be wed. The documentary returns again and again to public spaces that feel the coming port; the main, sleepy square, the port site and the beach that no one visits.

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The film has a universal theme and international relevance. It will be shown at international film festivals and will be released in independent cinemas. Watch the filmmakers talk about this unique project below and support these filmmakers to take their project to the next level by contributing to their campaign!

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© Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann

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