The powerful Softie The Film that follows the life of Kenyan photographer and political activist Boniface Mwangi, his wife Njeri and their kids has premiered nationwide in Kenya.
The star-studded opening night screening at Prestige was attended by a host of guests including film industry professionals, influencers, production crew and Kenya’s top media personalities, thespians and activists.
The film is now showing at Eldoret (Rupa Cinema), Anga Diamond Plaza, Unseen Nairobi, Prestige Cinemas and Motion Cinemas, Donholm.
Full “SOFTIE” film airing schedule here
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.
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. Softie was also the opening night film at the Hotdocs Film Festival and at the Human Rights Festival held in Berlin, where the film also won The Willy Brandt Documentary Award for Freedom and Human Rights on 10th Oct 2020. The film also bagged the award for Best Feature Documentary at the Lunenburg Doc Fest on 1st Oct 2020. The jury described the film as “a beautifully crafted and edited documentary that highlights the extraordinary dreams of a young Kenyan activist.” 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 CPH:DOX, Full Frame 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.
Boniface encourages all Kenyans to go watch the film.
He 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”.
For Njeri Mwangi, having their private family life on screen has been a difficult and rewarding experience. She says,
“ 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.”Njeri Mwangi
Duration: 96 MIN.
Directed and Written by: Sam Soko
Producers – Toni Kamau, Sam Soko
Kenyan Executive Producer – Bramwel Iro
Cinematographer: Joel “Ingo” Ngui, Sam Soko, Chris Rhys Howarth
Additional cinematography : Elijah Kanyi, David Kariuki, Vincent Muthini, Pete Murimi, Bruce Makau, Streeter Phillips, James Quest, Seydou Mukali, Nick Wambugu
Sound recording: Edwin Ahenda, Brian Munene
Line Producers: Ruth Munyiri, Valerie Shamas
Production Manager: Matrid Nyagah, Lola Karisa.
Impact Producer: Miriam Ayoo
World Premiere: Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Documentary Competition 2020
WInner: Sundance Special Jury Prize for Editing
Winner: Best Documentary at Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)
Winner: Best Documentary Encounters film festival
Hot Docs 2020 Opening Night Film
Softie is a production by LBx Africa in association with We are not the machine and Eyesteelfilm.