By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 14, 2011 at 5:24AM
This reminds me of 2 Focus Features' Africa First Shorts film I saw at the New York African Film Festival earlier this year. The first, Umkhungo, a South African film, which I described as close to a superhero origin story, set in an African country, as I've seen, which centers on an orphaned child with uncontrollable supernatural powers, and those who'd rather see him expelled; the second, Mwansa The Great, made by Zambian Rungano Nyoni, that centers on an 8-year old, who, in an attempt to prove he is a hero just like his father who passed away, goes on a quest to find the "magical" substance necessary to fix his sister's broken doll, and finally prove that he is in fact destined for greatness.
Directed by Jinna Mutune, Leo, as Bunmi at A Bombastic Element succinctly puts it, is "a film about a Kenyan boy dreaming of becoming a comic book superhero... Though the boy ends up realizing he is a different kind hero."
The film's website has this as an official synopsis:
... a charming and beguiling adult fairy-tale set in Nairobi, a Metropolitan City in Kenya that is a melting pot of East African culture, art, politics and commerce. It is a story about Maasai boy, raised in a low-income home, achieving his dream against all odds.
LEO film is a simple story that captures the essence of a child’s heart still open to all the posssibilities of achieving his dream in “Kenya” Africa.
I dig the idea that Bunmi introduces in his post on the film - essentially that black bodies are inherently supernatural, given *our* ability to survive and thrive in a white supremacist world. The idea came from a research paper penned by Anna Beatrice Scott in 2006, and is worth a read.
I'm also digging this focus by African filmmakers depicting Africans as potentially super-heroic, even if it's done so metaphorically to emphasize some other salient point, or disseminate ideas about Africa and Africans that challenge dominant international perceptions of the continent and the people within it.
The film stars Trevor Gitonga as the titular Leo, and the most recent bit of news about its progress is a blog post dated May 24th, 2011, stating that the film was in post-production. "... I’m at the editing studio looking at the rough cut of the film and I get teary when I think of God’s faithfulness..., the post reads.
I'm not sure where they are currently with the film, though I hope my requests for info don't go unanswered. And when I know more, you will to. But I'm guessing film festival play will follow...
Here's the trailer: