This week, my feature profile is Mũchiri Njenga. He is the founder of Nairobi-based boutique creative studio Studio Ang which has become a haven for independent artists that enjoy working on unique and visually innovative projects. Njenga is a self-taught transmedia artist and filmmaker whose background spans the fields of animation, motion design, music and film. Kichwateli and My World is Round are two short films by Njenga that screened at the Afrika Eye Film Festival at The Watershed in Bristol, UK last year.
Kichwateli is a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city. The film takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream, mixing imagery of the boy wandering inquisitively with a live TV as his head to show the effects of media on a young generation.
The short film features music by Just A Band, Modeselektor ( a breakbeat duo from Berlin) and Maasai Mbili (Nairobi-based Art group). The music is a metaphor for the way we are now all plugged into the same images of global anxiety while at the same time we ourselves, are subjects of scrutiny by the all-seeing ubiquitous cameras. The director of Goethe-Institut Nairobi Johannes Hossfeld said this of the project,
Muchiri made one of the best music videos I have ever seen in my life.
Kichwateli was Studio Ang’s contribution to the BLNRB project, a cooperation between Kenyan and German musicians initiated by Goethe-Institut Nairobi and Gebrüder Teichmann. Learn more about the filmmaking process for Kichwateli and the inspirations that led to it’s production by clicking here.
Our World Is Round
Our World Is Round is a short film that celebrates the life-time achievement of veteran Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah and his award winning team Safari Simbaz. The film details how Kinjah discovered cycling and what brings him joy in this activity. Having raced and won medals in prestigious races around the world, Kinjah also mentored Tour De France 2013 winner Chris Froome.
Kinjah, the first black African rider to sign for a European cycling team, trained Froome as a cyclist when he was a boy while his family was living in Kenya. The film also delineates Kinjah’s strong desire to transform the lives of the people in his village through his passion and the power of cycling. This is an initiative which has taken form in the Safari Simbaz Trust,
Most of these young boys are school dropouts who would have ended up being gangsters. But through Safari Simbaz, they’ve learned a lot about life, gone back to school and most of them [now] have a career in pro-cycling, representing Kenya in international races globally.
In this film, the advantages that new technology has provided are also brought to the fore. When Kinjah first started cycling professionally, he mainly relied on magazines and newspapers. Now, with the help of web developer Fady Rostom, Kinjah and his team have an online presence that can be reached globally. Read more about the film and view more photos at a previous feature I wrote here.
Beyond A Craft
Beyond A Craft is inspired by a true story. Join Pedro from Ecuador as he seeks to provide for his daughter Maria while overcoming great struggles and hardship. Will the talents and dreams of his daughter ever be realized, or will both Pedro and Maria sink deeper into poverty?
Njenga wrote and directed the film. It is the result of him taking part in the MicroFlicks Global Film Challenge which is an initiative of VisionFund and World Vision to locate and promote talented filmmakers around the globe and their films focusing on microfinance (learn more about Vision Fund’s microfinance here). To find out more about the film, read this feature I wrote last year.
The contest sent five talented filmmakers on an all expense paid trip to interesting and unique locations all over the world. Once they were there, the filmmakers were tasked with creating compelling films showcasing microfinance. When these films were completed, they were posted online and promoted world wide in the global film challenge. Njenga’s film won second place. To view more behind the scenes photographs from the making of Beyond A Craft, go here.