7 years ago, Kenya was at the edge of total chaos. The devil and his minions had set camp in our country with a purpose. The 2007/08 Post-Election Violence is the biggest blight in our independent history. It was a moment that many Kenyans got to know how deep-seated our tribal hatred goes. It was a sad moment that brought many changes with it including a new constitution. More than 1,300 people were murdered and more than 300,000 people were displaced. Their lives were disrupted and torn apart all because of the community they came from.
Fast-forward to 2014 and Kenya had all but changed the narrative from IDPs to ICC. We forgot or ignored those that were living in camps; the real victims of the story. We instead relished and cherished moments of condemning the ICC if you were pro-government and the opposite if you were in the opposition. 2007/08 was a watershed moment for this country, moments that are never meant to be forgotten, else we’ll go back to the same hole. Angles Of My Face is one of the few artistic works that seeks to keep the conversation going.
The short film is set in an IDP camp. Manche, acted by Alex Owiti is the main character. He survived the Post-election violence, but he wishes he had not. Manche’s former good life, earning a decent salary and living in an enviable house, was turned upside down by the violence. What follows is the story of Manche, his son (who won’t talk due to the trauma), his pregnant wife and the camp residents. The Writer/Producer Alice Kombani pushes a stake through your heart when watching this film. She doesn’t give you enough time to laugh at Manche’s jokes before she plunges you deeper into his misery. Alex is an outstanding actor. He totally immerses himself in the film and his rugged look is a stark contrast to his former polished self. He tags at your heartstrings and makes a violin. He then sings the saddest dirges you ever had. The film will move you. It reminds us of who the real victim of the PEV were, they were not the politicians, but the normal mwananchi. The story is especially more profound when you watch it on the 3-storey-high Imax screen. You finally appreciate how big Ngatia’s dental profile is, you appreciate the cinematography, you feel the emotions and you can’t help but share in the tears.
The film that was shot using a semi-professional camera-the Canon EOS 7D- is handled artfully by the budding videographer/photographer: Kimani Wandaka. The opening shots are surreal and uniquely Kenyan- men playing ajua, boys playing football and the Kenyan sun bearing strongly. The Director, Manu Maina does a great job turning the screenplay into a masterful piece of art and the editor does not disappoint as he fuses scenes creatively and brings out the flashbacks well, without having to blur the screen.
Angles Of My Face is one of the very few Kenyan films that have ever made it to the big screen. It deservedly deserves to be there. The fact that the film was shot by students on a half-shoestring budget and managed to be as compelling as it was, only serves to show us how big the Kenyan movie scene can be. The one thing I wish the makers had done though was make the movie longer. The filmmakers might have explored contrasting scenarios or added other parallel stories to make the film more vicious. When all is said and done though, hats off to the Angles Of My Face team, only so few could have done what Old Gold Films did. You can watch the movie at Imax Kenya for only Sh. 200, it’s worth every cent and more.