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.
Sixteen-year-old Chandani has a burning desire: She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a mahout, a traditional elephant caretaker in Sri Lanka. This is customarily a job only for men; all the other mahouts around her doubt her abilities and oppose her plans. This is a small story with much large implications: If Chandani succeeds, she will be the first female mahout ever. Some of the most powerful scenes are the ones when nothing is spoken.
Ten-year-old Wadjda challenges deep-rooted Saudi traditions in a determined quest to buy a bicycle. When everything goes against her plans, she sees one last chance in her school’s Koran recitation competition and the large cash prize for first place. The first film ever shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, “Wadjda” is the story of a girl determined to fight for her dreams.
“A sharply observed, deceptively gentle film, reportedly the first feature ever directed by a Saudi woman. The movie presents the facts of its heroine’s life with calm authority and devastating effectiveness. With impressive agility, WADJDA finds room to maneuver between harsh realism and a more hopeful kind of storytelling. There is warmth as well as austerity in Wadjda’s world, kindness as well as cruelty, and the possibility, modestly sketched and ardently desired, of change. Buoyant.” -AO Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“The film marks a huge triumph for its female director…a remarkable film twice over.” -Kenneth Turan, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
“It’s always fascinating to discover what can make us happy, both as moviegoers and citizens of the world. WADJDA does the trick…funny and touching in equal measure.” -Joe Morgenstern, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL