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Drum rolls are in order: Mbithi Masya’s award-winning film Kati Kati has been selected as Kenya’s official submission for the Academy Award 2018 for Best Foreign Language Film. And you can watch it right now on Showmax. Watch now »
— Mbithi Masya (@mbithi) September 22, 2017
Helmed by the same group that brought us Nairobi Half Life, Kati Kati tells the story of Kaleche (Nyokabi Gethaiga), who finds herself in a mysterious island resort with no recollection of who she is or where she is, and and her first welcome is an eerie revelation from Elsaphan Njora’s Thoma: “This is Kati Kati. And you are here because you are dead.” What an opening!
“The same way Lupita Nyong’o transformed the way people look at dreams and possibility, to get nominated would do the same for filmmakers here. That whatever stories they create, they don’t have to be Hollywood type stories, they can still succeed by doing whatever is true to them.” – Mbithi Masya
“We are excited to represent the country.”
An elated man, director Mbithi Masya said in an interview over the phone,”It’s a great honour and privilege. We are excited to be able to represent the country on such a big stage. We know there is still a lot of work to be done, many hurdles to be skipped but we are just hoping for the best.”
If you all remember, in 2012 Nairobi Half Life became Kenya’s first ever Oscars submission in the same category of Foreign Language, but it failed to get the coveted nod. Imagine if Kati Kati actually got nominated? Quite a modest fellow, Mbithi says it would be a great victory for the whole team and a cause for celebration but he is one of those people who doesn’t like to get ahead of himself.
“It isn’t a political film.”
In its 12-month existence, Kati Kati has bagged the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and a 2017 AMVCAs for Best Movie – East Africa. It has also garnered positive reviews from critics. The Playlist described it as “vibrant and exciting,” and even compared it to a condensed version of Lost. Mbithi attributes all this success to the uniqueness of the film. “Kati Kati is different from other films that have come out of the region. It is a truly human story; it might have touched on some politics but it isn’t a political film itself.”
But this is the Oscars we’re talking about: “[The nomination] is a big deal if it does happen.”
On the importance of a nomination for the Academy Awards, Mbithi explains, “The Oscars are like the biggest stage for film in the world; just to be considered for that stage is so big for the region. The same way Lupita Nyong’o transformed the way people look at dreams and possibility, to get nominated would do the same for filmmakers here. That whatever stories they create, they don’t have to be Hollywood type stories, they can still succeed by doing whatever is true to them. So it’s a big deal if it does happen.”
If you are yet to watch Kati Kati, this would be the time to do right by your soul and head over to Showmax and see what the buzz is all about. You’ll even spot more of your favourite actors like Brian Ogola (Jane and Abel, Lies that Bind), Mumbi Maina (How to Find a Husband, Jane and Abel), Mugambi Nthiga (New Beginnings) and Peter King Mwania.
As far as Oscar nominations go, will Kati Kati have better luck than its predecessor Nairobi Half Life? Only time will tell. As a true Hunger Games fan, I’m going to say: may the odds be ever in its favour. And the race to the Oscars 2018 has officially begun.
To get you pumped up for the next Academy Awards (and the possibility of mishaps like those that went down last year – remember La La Land surrendering its trophy to Moonlight? Yikes), here is a list of a must-watch Oscar selection from Showmax.
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