The powerful film “SOFTIE” that follows the life of Kenyan photographer and political activist Boniface Mwangi, his wife Njeri and their kids, will premiere nationwide in Kenya, starting 16th October 2020 in Eldoret (Rupa Cinema), Mombasa (Nyali Cinemax), Kisumu (Mega Cinema) and at Prestige Cinema, Anga Diamond Plaza, Motion Cinema and Westgate Cinema, in Nairobi.
At the heart of the film lies the tale of how Boniface, nicknamed “Softie” in his childhood years, has long fought injustices in his country Kenya.
He is daring and audacious, and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist.
But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri Mwangi whose loyalty to her family is hard as a rock.
It’s a story of perseverance and love, evoking mixed emotions while exploring the themes of family, sacrifice and patriotism.
Boniface Mwangi says of the film,
“It unveils the curtain of the struggles of activists; my personal struggles as a father. It’s brutally honest. You will see tears. I have watched it two times and cried both times because it’s vicerial and heartbreaking to see what kind of country we have. It reveals our true colours as a nation and the role of money and ethnicity in politics.”
Directed by Sam Soko, the film chronicles a 7 year journey beginning with chaos filled street protests and culminating in Boniface’s decision to run for a political seat in his old neighbourhood Starehe.
He soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. His wife, Njeri, has long been silent in the background.
The decision to run put her and the family on the spot.
This brings forth a central question that many of the world’s brightest and most effective changemakers have had to ask themselves, ‘What comes first – family or country?’
The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, winning a special jury prize for editing.
It has been greatly reviewed, citing its conscientious story telling of Kenya’s struggle with political tribalism.
It has since played at a couple of prestigious festivals including CPHOX, FullFrame and even won Best Film at the Encounters International Documentary Festival and Best Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) 2020.
The DIFF win means that “SOFTIE” now qualifies for consideration for the Oscar documentary shortlist for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
The next ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on April 25, 2021.
Softie was also the opening night film at the Hotdocs Film Festival and at the Human Rights Festival held in Berlin, Germany under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad with opening and keynote speeches having included Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
For Njeri Mwangi, having their private family life on screen has been a difficult and rewarding experience.
“This film is not just a single story but the story of what women and mothers and wives like myself give to the cause of what they too believe in but whose contribution is not counted as significant or acknowledged as prominently as their partners. It has given me a voice and hopefully a chance for women to see themselves and count their contributions to the betterment of not only their families but also their communities and country,” adding, “To all the women out there, this film is for you and your families. We too matter!”
Ahead of the nationwide Kenyan viewing of the film starting 16th October 2020 on cinema Boniface says, “
It’s a very important film for Kenyans to watch because it shows what happens behind the scenes in an activist’s family life and their daily struggles,” noting, “It took seven years in the making”.