Trailer For Kenyan *Superhero* Feature Narrative "Leo"

by Tambay A. Obenson
August 14, 2011 5:24 AM
8 Comments
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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:

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8 Comments

  • Ghost | August 15, 2011 10:53 AMReply

    This is what I want to see. Original characters featuring people of color without being direct derivatives of other existing properties, that was discussed in the Spider-Man post a few weeks ago.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    The reason we don't see them is because we and others don't support them. Either they are not black enough or thug enough.

    Static should have been a movie a long time ago and McDuffie couldn't get a studio not even WB who owns DC Comics to do it.

    And the issue with Static is WHO plays him. Cast the wrong black guy and you have a bomb worst than Green Lantern.

    Marvel has a few but noncomic fans have no idea who they are. Night Trasher lost his parents, went to college and formed his own superhero team with teh New Warriors. Rocket Racer has been seen on tv but under different names. Cardic and Prowler-the same boat.

  • urbanauteur | August 15, 2011 7:30 AMReply

    So far,so good i like the interplay with super heroe-worship& magic realism.

  • Steven | August 15, 2011 5:34 AMReply

    This trailer looks interesting but I wouldn't run out and see the movie. I really like the trailer posted by Kia. I would run out and see that one today if possible. :)

    But I have to disagree with James Madison. I would like to see a major superhero property come to screen featuring any character of color- as long as it's a fully realized 3-dimensional character and/or story. In my opinion, it can take from Spider-Man, Superman, or whoever but it has to be able to stand on it's own. ( Marvel comics changed the character of Nick Fury from white to black. Nick Fury was modeled after Steve McQueen for some time.)

    There's been some really good and bad comic book properties featuring characters of color that the masses don't know about. But I wouldn't mind seeing a Latino Superman, black Hulk, or an Asian Wolverine.

  • Tamara | August 15, 2011 2:16 AMReply

    Wow. Love this.

  • Milton Davis | August 15, 2011 1:50 AMReply

    Look like some very interesting films are coming out of Kenya lately. I'm impressed.

  • James Madison | August 15, 2011 1:41 AMReply

    This is what I want to see. Original characters featuring people of color without being direct derivatives of other existing properties, that was discussed in the Spider-Man post a few weeks ago.

    Whether "Leo" is a good film or not, or the idea of super powers is literal or figurative, I would rather see this vision than the Black Spider-Man, Superman etc.

  • Jamaica | August 14, 2011 8:39 AMReply

    The trailer is not showing.

  • Kia | August 14, 2011 8:05 AMReply

    Tambay,

    Here's another film and project that you might want to check out that borders on the notion you mentioned about African filmmakers depicting African as heroic (super or otherwise):

    http://taharukithefilm.com/

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