Watching Sheila Mulinya: Not just for the Damned

Last week on Monday, I watched Damned, Sheila Mulinya’s entry into the first edition of the 48 Hour Film Project in Nairobi. A film about mistaken identity, unrequited love and the ways in which families are barely kept together, it packs a lot in under 10 minutes.

Made over 48 hours in 2013, it was a labour of love delivered by her friends and family. Speaking at the Monthly Lola Screen Forum last week, she pointed out how invaluable their participation was in the making of the film; from Nice Githinji acting as one of the protagonists to her niece playing the role of a troubled couple’s child.

The basic conceit of the 48 Hour Film Project is this: Can you come up with an interesting film that is 7 minutes long in 48 hours or less? The organisers let the filmmakers choose a theme from a hat (Mulinya’s was vacation) and she put together a script, a cast, a film and editing work in time for the deadline.

A veritable tribute to the city that is Nairobi, it starts at a location more than one Nairobian can recognise and captures the spirit of Nairobi living. Such things as leaving home to sit by a pool while you drink and the ubiquitous children’s play areas at such places will probably be historical artefacts at some point.

The 48 Hour Film Project can sometimes sound like a limited venture so it was intriguing to hear Mulinya say she had, in the making of the film, got her chance to realise her dream of casting identical twins. Paul Kabugi created the film’s score, making it possible for Damned to feature new music at its release.

Watching it was a fantastic way to ready myself for the screening of this year’s 48 Hour Film Project entries. Shot and submitted over the last weekend of November, they’ll be shown at Century Cinemax at The Junction on both Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Damned was a great reminder of how varied and intriguing the selection can be and I can’t wait to share my thoughts of this year’s selection with you.