Soul Boy

Director(s): Hawa Essuman
Country: Germany, Kenya
Language: Swahili w/ English subtitles
Live Action | 2010 | 60 min
Genre: Drama
Recommended for ages 13+ (Parental Guidance: References to alcoholism and sexual promiscuity. Threat of personal safety.)

Abila, 14, lives in the violent slum jungle of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a Luo – one of the many Kenyan tribes. He is smitten with Shiku, who is the same age, but she is a Kikuyu, and that is the problem. Boys and girls from different tribes are not encouraged to mix. But Abila has another problem. At the start of the film, he finds his father in a disturbing state. His mother says it’s a hangover, but Abila has a feeling there’s more going on. He finds out that his father’s soul has been stolen by a Nyawawa, a female spirit. Despite the hostility of the surroundings, Abila and Shiku set off together to save the soul of Abila’s father.

You could say that the location is the real protagonist of this film. Shot in 13 days, this film was made in Kibera, where more than one million people live and battle for survival. Its residents acted the film’s parts.

This film emerged from a workshop and benefited from production support by the famous German director Tom Tykwer. Above all, the camera work is of a level that is seldom seen in African pictures. The authentic background in combination with the outside support turned “Soul Boy” into a sparkling – and surprisingly professional-looking — short film.

Afrika-Filmfestival, Veto Award; Ale Kino!, Polish Filmmakers Association Award; Festival Ciné Junior, Special Mention “Passeurs d’images” prize, Young Jury Prize; Kenya International Film Festival, Best Actor, Best East African Film Rotterdam International Film Festival 2010, Dioraphte Audience Award; Zanzibar International Film Festival, Signis

Watch Trailer