Pumzi is Kenya’s first science fiction film created by writer and direct Wanuri Kahiu, imagines a dystopian future 35 years after water wars have torn the world apart. East African survivors of the ecological devastation remain locked away in contained communities, but a young woman in possession of a germinating seed struggles against the governing council to bring the plant to Earth’s ruined surface.
Kahiu researched classic 1950s films to create her movie’s futuristic sets, comparing the processes of matte painting and rear-screen projection with indigenous African artwork.The short film, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago, is said to have started off as a small script about what kind of world we would have to be if we had to buy fresh air.
The film was funded by Focus Features’ Africa First short film program, the Goethe Institut and the Changamoto arts fund. Mentors from Focus Features introduced Kahiu to South African producers, including Simon Hansen, who worked with Neill Blomkamp on Alive in Joburg, the predecessor to the sci-fi film District 9.
Kenya, frequently used for location shooting, boasts experienced crews but little funding. Though issues of funding and distribution are always challenging Kahiu swears by hustling and perseverance.
Focus Features granted Kahiu complete control of her film. After producing commissions for African networks and retaining no rights. Her first feature-length movie, From a Whisper, is a dramatization built around the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, garnered five African Academy Movie Awards.
Kahiu’s is such an inspiration and continues to work very hard on fulfilling her vision, below is an interview of her speaking about Pumzi and the thought behind it. It is truly reaffirming for you black women who also have goals of innovation and prosperity. Anything is possible!
And for your thrills, thank God the film is out. Take a look, and be inspired. Beautiful shot, and a lovely story. I am so glad that finally, our stories are making it on to the screens of international cinema, for international crowds. This reminds US that we are capable and wonderful.