One of the things I love about what I do here is learning about new and interesting projects, while in their early stages of development, keeping up with them as they make progress, until they are complete and ready to screened commercially.
Like this one… which we first alerted you in August 2011, and which I found out will be making its world premiere this week!
First a quick recap…
Directed by Jinna Mutune, the film is titled Leo, and is described as a film about a Kenyan boy dreaming of becoming a comic book superhero… Though the boy ends up realizing he is a different kind hero.
The film’s website had this as an official synopsis:
… a charming and beguiling adult fairy-tale set in Nairobi, a Metropolitan City in Kenya that is a melting pot of East African culture, art, politics and commerce. It is a story about Maasai boy, raised in a low-income home, achieving his dream against all odds. LEO is a simple story that captures the essence of a child’s heart still open to all the posssibilities of achieving his dream in “Kenya” Africa.
So it’s not a superhero movie in the traditional sense, but as conversations about black filmmakers making films across genres, Leo should benefit from that interest.
I dig the idea the film posits that black bodies are inherently supernatural, given *our* ability to survive and thrive in a white supremacist world, and thus, in that sense, we are indeed superheroes; Depicting Africans as potentially super-heroic, even if it’s done metaphorically to emphasize some other salient point, or disseminate ideas about Africa and Africans that challenge dominant international perceptions of the continent and the people within it.
This reminds me of 2 recent Focus Features’ Africa First Shorts films. The first, Umkhungo, a South African film, which I described as close to a superhero origin story, set in an African country, as I’ve seen, which centers on an orphaned child with uncontrollable supernatural powers, and those who’d rather see him expelled; the second, Mwansa The Great, made byZambian Rungano Nyoni, that centers on an 8-year old, who, in an attempt to prove he is a hero just like his father who passed away, goes on a quest to find the “magical” substance necessary to fix his sister’s broken doll, and finally prove that he is in fact destined for greatness.
The film stars Trevor Gitonga as the titular Leo, and, as noted earlier, the film will make its world premiere in Nairobi, Kenya, this Thursday, November 29.
No word on whether it’ll travel, although I’m sure it will. So stay tuned for details as they become available.
I found a really good interview with the director, Jinna Mutune, via Kenya’s own K24TV, uploaded to YouTube just yesterday, in anticipation of this week’s release. In it, she talks about the film, of course, its origins, her process, her background, and more. It’s certainly worth viewing.
But first, here’s a trailer for Leo; you’ll find the interview underneath.
Here’s the trailer:
And here’s the interview, which is in 2 parts: