One feature film down and an international award in the bag.
Not too shabby for Mbithi Masya who had us all cheering out loud for both him and the team behind the new film Kati Kati which premiered about a week ago at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2016 – one of the biggest showcases of international cinema and the kick off to a slew of other festivals dedicated to discovering film that may not necessarily have massive dedicated marketing budgets ahead of the awards season.
Kati Kati which was written by Mbithi alongside Mugambi Nthiga was honoured with the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) prize for Discovery at TIFF.
Catching up with Mbithi in the immediate wake of the Festival was a little tough – the last couple of weeks have been understandably hectic; but he’s just ready to keep on working: “… my hope for this [film] is that it’s seen by as diverse an audience as possible. All around the world….” He’s just completed his next piece – a short form film and that’s where his focus lies beyond Kati Kati.
But how did this ‘next phase’ of his life come to be, following the decision by Just A Band to take a hiatus? Cinema he says, has always been one of his passions: “I loved watching film… I didn’t think I could actually make any! But that changed the more I worked with the band and experimented and played more….” – a natural transition within the creative space.
The film itself is produced by One Fine Day Films – their fifth production in Kenya. The team itself started a number of workshops in conjunction with Film Africa. Almost everyone engaged in Kati Kati participated in those workshops and through them were forged the relationships that eventually led to the start of the project.
What I was essentially interested in, was the process towards the creation of a complete body of work – but that’s a question that he essentially deflected. He is too new to the game to have really figured out his process: “Still figuring it out in fact” he adds. “I think I’ll have a process after like 2 or 3 movies, fingers crossed. But for now, it’s all about asking for help when needed…”
And collaboration in many cases – regardless of the industry helps to hone and tune ideas that may not have achieved real direction. “…working with Mugambi was fun and really collaborative. We just kept bouncing ideas back and forth and seeing what stuck. It was pretty free-form…”
Kati Kati has been billed as a “poetic fantasy that offers a dark reflection on personal atonement in the shadow of Kenya’s violent past.”
Here’s to even more success, Mbithi – for you and the rest of the team!