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Boniface Mwangi’s documentary ‘Softie’ qualifies for consideration for 2021 Oscars

By Amina Wako October 13th, 2020 2 min read

A documentary by activist Boniface Mwangi has qualified for consideration for the prestigious Oscars Awards shortlist in 2021.

‘Softie’ has been selected in the category of the Best Documentary Feature and is among more than 40 documentaries shortlisted in that category.

After winning the Best Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) 2020, Softie qualified 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.

Mwangi’s documentary has since been played at several prestigious festivals, including CPH:DOX, FullFrame and won Best Film at the Encounters International Documentary Festival.

It 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 keynote speakers including Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Softie follows the life of Kenyan photographer and political activist Boniface Mwangi, his wife Njeri and their kids and will premiere in Kenya from October 16.

The documentary was directed by Sam Soko and first premiered at Sundance in January, winning a special jury prize for editing. It has received wide reviews, with critics citing its conscientious story telling of Kenya’s struggle with political tribalism.

The film chronicles a 7-year journey beginning with chaos filled street protests and culminating in Mwangi’s decision to run for a parliamentary seat in his old neighborhood Starehe.

He soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk.

The decision to run put his wife Njeri and the family on the spot and the documentary delves into the central question that many of the world’s change makers have had to ask themselves, ‘What comes first – family or country?’

Sam Soko, who had directed several short music videos and films before 2013, shot the documentary over a period of five years yet it was initially meant to be only for one year.

The film ended up giving insights into a young activist and his wife, their family life in a young democracy and their struggle to balance their love for their country with their family needs.