On a dusty soccer pitch in Malindi, Kenya young Kalu (Kevin Ndege Mamboleo) is an aggressive striker of the “Malindi Sharks,” who dreams of playing professional soccer. He’s a selfish player and a clear stand out on his team and knows he’s destined for glory. Then one day his life dramatically changes. Kalu gets an offer to play soccer on a second tier team in South Africa on the same day his father is killed in an accident and he unknowingly is exposed to the HIV virus. He makes the decision to go play soccer and send part of his salary back to home to his mother (Regina-Re) and sister.
Kalu moves from rural Kenya to urban Johannesburg to discover he’s no longer a local hero. He even meets resistance from his own team. Spikiri (Sdumo Mtshali), the Black Star’s captain and starting striker, stakes out his turf and greets Kalu with aggression. All the while, inside Kalu's body a battle for his T-Cells rages as the HIV virus spreads. Back on the soccer field, Kalu's new coach, Valentine (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), must convince his players to forget their differences and play as a team. As Kalu struggles to find his way in a strange place, he begins a tepid friendship with Iyf (Kendra Etufunwa), the coaches daughter, who offers him sound advice. Kalu's light-hearted Black Stars teammate, Jabu (Seth Zina) befriends him and helps Kalu turn rivals into teammates. Meanwhile Kalu and Ify’s friendship grows as Ify seeks out advice about how to thwart the unwanted advances of team owner Goodwill (Fana Mokoena) - who makes it clear that, if Ify will not be intimate with him, her father’s job is in jeopardy.
These battles on and off the field are the backdrop for a remarkable journey that unfolds the mysteries and reveals the facts of the HIV virus within Kalu. Together, we race past skin, bone, and muscle to reveal the high stakes game going on inside his body. We see the HIV virus' relentless attack of the body, previously normal T-Cells transfigured, and how the body tries to fight back.
Kalu struggles and triumphs as a soccer player and in his relationships, and as he confronts the challenges of HIV, and ultimately realizes that knowledge is power.
As it continues its travels throughout sub-Saharan Africa, no word yet on whether it'll see a proper release outside of Africa, given how well it's been received on the international film festival circuit.
But, once again, New Yorkers will be able to see it this weekend, when it makes its New York premiere at the African Diaspora Film Festival. It screens twice: Saturday, December 1 at 2PM at Teachers College, and Tuesday, December 4, at 6PM at the Thalia in Symphony Space.
Ticket ($12 each) purchases can be made HERE.
Take a look at the trailer: