Kenyan crime drama titled Nairobi Half Life, from director David Tosh Gitonga, is Kenya's selection for the Best Foreign Language Oscar category, making it just the second film from Kenya to be entered into the race (the first was 2008's Heart of Fire, a Kenyan/German co-production about civil war in Eritrea. However, despite the entry, the film didn't make the short list of final nominations by the Academy for the 2009 Awards.
Gitonga's Nairobi Half Life centers on an aspiring actor from upcountry Kenya, who dreams of becoming a success. In pursuit of this, he makes his way to Nairobi, supposedly the city of opportunity, and faces a different reality when he arrives, and instead falls into a life of crime.
The Kenya Oscars Selection Committee praised the film as a masterpiece, believing in its chances at a nomination for next year's Awards.
“We as a committee are privileged to have been involved in the process of reviewing Nairobi Half Life and to have found it as a suitable Kenyan submission. It is clear from this film that The Kenya Film Industry has the capacity to make movies that can compete on a global platform.”
The film is a co-production project between One Fine Day Films (founded by German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (Run Lola, Run, Perfume) with his girlfriend/partner, Marie Steinmann, with the goal being to promote and support filmmaking for aspiring filmmakers in Kenya) and Nairobi-based production house Ginger Ink.
It stars Joseph K. Wairimu, Olwenya Maina, and Nancy Wanjiku Karanja.
Nairobi Half Life is director Gitonga's feature film debut; previously, he served as assistant director on the Naomie Harris drama, The First Grader, as well as on a few short films, and a TV movie.
It made its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa over the summer, where star Joseph Wairimu, won the Best Actor Award.
It hasn't played in the USA yet, so none of us has seen it, but definitely looking forward to doing so eventually.
According to Kenya's Lifestyle magazine, the film premiered in Nairobi on August 30, and has been screening to full houses since then, and has received outstanding reviews from local newspapers and blogs, making it the most successful theatrical release of a local film in Kenyan history.
The Academy will announce the final list of 5 nominated films on Thursday January 10, 2013.
The official Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday February 24, 2013.
Watch the trailer: