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Daudi Anguka’s flick ‘Mvera’ to represent Kenya at the Oscars

By Hilary Kimuyu September 28th, 2023 3 min read

Award-winning Kenyan filmmaker and CEO of AR Films, Daudi Anguka’s film Mvera, has been chosen to represent Kenya in the International Best Feature Film category for the 96th Academy Awards.

The English and Swahili language film is about corrupt leadership that has left a community in Mombasa in poverty.

“Kenya has selected the Film MVERA by Daudi Anguka as the Kenyan submission for the Best International Feature Film category for the 96th Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars,” said the Kenya Oscars Selection committee.

According to the committee, the submissions received this year are a clear indication that Kenya’s film industry is primed to compete on the international stage. There is a general improvement in the story and acting going by the submissions that we received, noted Krysteen Savane, the Chairperson.

The committee said that this year, they received three submissions: Shimoni by Wangechi Ngugi, Unheard Voices by William Okoth, and Mvera by AR Films Production Limited.

Also read: Why ‘Black Panther’ actress Angela Bassett deserves an Oscar

Written and directed by Anguka, Mvera was produced entirely in the Coast and features, among others, Patrick Owino, Hillary Namanje, Carolyne Rita Mutua, Kibi Salim Susan Kadide, and Linah Sande as Mvera.

According to Anguka, the film was inspired by the current generation, people who want to tell their stories but didn’t get a chance to speak them out.

The film premiered on September 9 at the Nyali Cinemax, Mombasa, and is currently screening in country It is about corrupt leadership that has left a community in Mombasa in the grip of poverty.

As a result, a local company owned by a shrewd millionaire, Thabiti, offers young people the opportunity to find work abroad.

“Mvera, a self-centered woman who is also on a mission to search for her lost mother, and also one of the applicants, soon discovers they are all trapped in an organ trafficking ring. She is forced on a hero’s journey as she tries to make it back home to warn the villagers about Thabiti. A man they plan to vote in as Governor for all the “support” he is giving to the community,” reads part of the synopsis.

According to Anguka Mvera is an embodiment of a woman in an indigenous community who is loved and regarded as a blessing in her community because of her traits; well-educated, virtuous, and loved.

The film will compete in the Best International Feature Film Category, formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film Category, after the Kenya Film Commission (KFC) officially submits it later in the year.

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Kenya has not been doing well in its submissions to the Academy since its first attempt in 2012 when it submitted the short film Nairobi Half-Life, produced by David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga, at the 85th Academy Awards.

Since then, KFC has submitted six films, with only one, Watu Wote, produced in 2017 by Tobias Rosen, landing a nomination albeit in a different category, Best Live Action Short Film.

For a film to be considered in the Best International Feature category, it has to be a motion picture of over 40 minutes.

Watu Wote, a 22-minute-long action film, became a talking point in Kenya, stemmed from the December 2015 Mandera bus attack by Al-Shabaab, who sought to kill Christian passengers and spare Muslims.

Last year, for the first time, Kenya submitted a CGI superhero film TeraStorm with the country becoming the first in Africa to submit an original African scripted animated feature with African characters and context for Oscar consideration.

In 2019, the Kenya Film Commission received only one film, two in 2020 and four in 2021, which saw Melvin Alusa’s Mission to Rescue, an action-drama, chosen as Kenya’s submission for the 94th Edition of the Academy Awards (Oscars). To date, no Kenyan film has won an academy.

Also read: Superhero film ‘TeraStorm’ to represent Kenya at the Oscars