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Wed February 26, 2014

Nairobi Half Life, David Tosh Gitonga (Kenya, 2012)

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at Pacific Film Archive (PFA) Theater (see times)
Kenya’s first-ever Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film, David Tosh Gitonga’s high-energy look at Nairobi street culture was created under the auspices of Tom Twyker’s (Run Lola Run) production company. An aspiring young actor from the Kenyan backwaters heads to Nairobi to make it big, but soon discovers why the city is nicknamed “Nairobbery.” A friendship with a gang leader steers him further away from his dreams of acting, but both worlds soon benefit from his involvement with the other. Able to act his way out of a dangerous, thug-filled situation on one hand, he’s later able to more “realistically” portray a criminal on stage. Economically yet dynamically shot, with surprising layers of humor, Nairobi Half Life is “an affecting, funny narrative, bringing us into the layered, tumultuous life of people” (Variety).

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Billy Kahora, Potash Charles Matathia, Samuel Munene, Serah Mwihaki. Photographed by Christian Almesberger. With Joseph Wairimu, Olwenya Maina, Nancy Wanjiku Karanja, Mugambi Nthiga. (96 mins, In Swahili, Kukiyu, and English with English subtitles, Color, DigiBeta)
Kenya’s first-ever Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language Film, David Tosh Gitonga’s high-energy look at Nairobi street culture was created under the auspices of Tom Twyker’s (Run Lola Run) production company. An aspiring young actor from the Kenyan backwaters heads to Nairobi to make it big, but soon discovers why the city is nicknamed “Nairobbery.” A friendship with a gang leader steers him further away from his dreams of acting, but both worlds soon benefit from his involvement with the other. Able to act his way out of a dangerous, thug-filled situation on one hand, he’s later able to more “realistically” portray a criminal on stage. Economically yet dynamically shot, with surprising layers of humor, Nairobi Half Life is “an affecting, funny narrative, bringing us into the layered, tumultuous life of people” (Variety).

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Billy Kahora, Potash Charles Matathia, Samuel Munene, Serah Mwihaki. Photographed by Christian Almesberger. With Joseph Wairimu, Olwenya Maina, Nancy Wanjiku Karanja, Mugambi Nthiga. (96 mins, In Swahili, Kukiyu, and English with English subtitles, Color, DigiBeta)
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Pacific Film Archive (PFA) Theater
2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720

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