‘Supa Modo’ Beats ‘Rafiki’ To Become Kenya’s Oscars Contender

Supa Modo, a story of a mother driven to surround her terminally ill daughter with joy in her last days, has been selected by the Kenya Film Commission to represent Kenya in the foreign language category of the Oscars, Variety reports.

Directed by Likarion Wainaina, the film starring veteran actors Maryanne Nungo and Nyawara Ndambia with newcomer Stycie Waweru, had its world premiere at the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus program in February 2017 and has been screened at over 30 festivals since.

Wanuri Kahiu’s controversial film Rafiki which had been banned in Kenya following its release, on grounds it was promoting lesbianism, had clear intentions for the Oscars. But for it to be submitted for the Academy awards it needed to be screened. Earlier in September, a high court temporarily lifted the ban allowing it to be screened in cinemas. The film sold out at the Prestige Plaza’s Anga Cinema, forcing the management to add screening hours. Unfortunately for its producers, Supa Modo was chosen instead to contend for the Oscars. Kahiu tweeted her congratulations to the Supa Modo team after hearing the news on 28 September. “Congratulations to being selected as the Kenyan Oscar entry! What joy!!! We celebrate this beautifully, magical film, all the cast and crew and to first time feature director ! WELL DONE!” she wrote.

In a statement seen by Kenyans.co.ke, the Kenyan Oscars selection committee chose Supa Modo noting that in addition to meeting all the criteria set for submission it was a strong body of work on the technical aspect and with a great entertainment value.

“After consideration of all the points and the strengths and weaknesses of the film, the Oscars Selection Committee Kenya hereby confirms that it has selected Supa Modo as the Kenyan submission to the 91st Academy Awards (Oscars) in the category of Best Foreign Language Film,” the committee stated.

The committee, aware of the extenuating circumstances noted, “The Selection Committee made a decision to break the set deadline and admit the film Rafiki for consideration.

“In the interest of common justice, given the huge public interest in this matter, but also so as to satisfy our own curiosity and conscience, therefore, it behoved the selection Committee to oblige the Court ruling, even though it fell outside of our set timeliness,” the statement reads. The film had all the items on the checklist ticked off apart from the DVD copy because it is still illegal to hold a copy of the same movie in Kenya.

“..we were satisfied that the entry met a majority of requirements needed to consider it as a valid entry. The film was indeed a worthwhile entry and was received well by the Selection Committee without favour nor prejudice,” the committee assured. The other film, Njata did not make the cut as it did not satisfy all the Academy’s parameters

Kenya Film Classification Board Boss Ezekiel Mutua, who was disappointed when the court lifted the ban, had a few things to say after the film missed a nomination spot at the Oscars Awards.

“While gay people have a right to dignity and should be treated as human beings deserving of respect, they should keep their gay practices to themselves, he said on Facebook. “Government regulates the public space, including exhibition of content.” He went ahead to congratulate Supa Modo for getting a nomination in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

The movie recently won the Best Indigenous Language Movie at the 6th annual African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards in Lagos, Nigeria.