Set in Nairobi’s Little Mogadishu, a popular YouTube content creator considers what it means to be Somalian. His Somali peers are either born in Somalia, in Kenya or in the diaspora in the West – all of which have to bear in how each of them understands or claims their belonging and Somali identity.
Mahad was born and raised in Nairobi, a multicultural city famous for, among many other reasons, its Little Mogadishu, the Somali neighbourhood Eastleigh. This colourful district is in reality the second biggest Somali city in the world. Here, Somalis from different socio-cultural backgrounds meet each other, live and work together, and argue and fight for their dreams. They all came for different reasons: some as refugees, some were forced to come back from the West to Africa, and others came voluntarily in search of new opportunities. Mahad and his friends were simply born and raised here, in Kenya, and are called Somali Sijui, literally “Somalis who don’t know”. Cultural differences among the Somalis are determined by their migration history. Some of our characters speak fluent Somali, others can’t. Some like to be on time, others feel that it is normal to arrive late. By investigating the reasons behind these differences, cultural shocks and misunderstandings, Mahad will share with us part of the history of Somalia and its legacy. In this autobiographical film, he is sharing with us his life experience in creating the YouTube channel Somali React through which he brings together all these different souls, in an attempt to understand his own identity and future destiny.
Mahad Ahmed is a Kenyan actor, director, scriptwriter and founder of the Nairobi based collective Somali React. He earned his certificate in Film & TV Production from the prestigious African Digital Media Institute and later worked as a director and editor for RTN TV. Mahad starred as the main character, Momo, in WAZI?FM. The film has won the Golden Dhow at the 2015 ZIFF Awards, among other awards, and has been selected to several international film festivals such as the Pan African Film Festival of Los Angeles. He was part of the cast of the Oscar-nominated short film Watu Wote, an adaptation of the Mandera Bus Attack incident. He also worked as a camera assistant on the set of Ayaanle and There is nothing to do in Nairobi as an assistant director, with the famous Nairobi based collective The Nest, led by the acclaimed director Jim Chuchu. Mahad has had opportunities to work for internationally recognised directors and productions.
CULTURAL VIDEO PRODUCTION
Vincenzo Cavallo is a writer, director, producer and academic researcher based in Kenya since 2007. He has participated at Berlinale Talents in 2018 and at the Berlinale Talent Co-Production Market Lab in 2019, where he also won the VFF Award with Bufis, a Somali dramedy film project currently in pre-production. His first interactive film, African Space Makers, has been in the official competition of XR Venice 2020 and has won the Lumiere Award for Best Director as well as the XR Most Significant Impact Award. His first feature film WAZI?FM, a Somali-Kenyan thriller, has won among others three awards at the Zanzibar Film Festival in 2015, including the Golden Dhow. He wrote, directed and co-produced a twelve- episode TV series on Afro-Colombian music, won Berlin Web Festival Best Comedy and Roma Web Festival Best Director with a web-series on West African migrants living in Southern Italy.
Don Edkins is a South African documentary filmmaker and producer based in Cape
Town. He has produced documentary film projects that have been broadcast around
the world, such as Steps for the Future, Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? earning
multiple international awards, including an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, and the
Special Teddy Award at the 63rd Berlinale for Steps for the Future. The Peabody
awarded Why Poverty? Project, with documentary films from 21 countries, was
screened globally by 70 broadcasters. He is Executive Producer of AfriDocs, a free-to-
view VOD platform and broadcast strand across Africa that screens the best African
and international documentary films. He is currently producing a new documentary film
project with African filmmakers across the continent, Generation Africa, around the
theme of migration. He is a mentor for the Berlinale Talents, Durban FilmMart, and
Docs by the Sea in Indonesia, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tiny Mungwe is a documentary film and arts producer. She currently works at STEPS
(Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) where she produces Generation
Africa, a pan-African anthology of 25 documentary films from 16 countries in Africa, on
the topic of migration. Mungwe’s films include Akekho uGogo, a 48 minute
documentary about urban youth culture, which screened at several festivals including
the Durban International Film Festival, Apollo Film Festival and DOKANEMA Festival.
Her short film script Evelyn was selected for the National Film and Video Foundation
(NFVF) Women Filmmaker Project and she directed another short film in the program,
Daddy’s Boy. She has written for some of the highest rating South African television
dramas such as Muvhango and Matatiele, and was one of the directors on the series
Uzalo. For several years she worked as a festival organizer and programmer for four
international festivals, namely Time of the Writer, the Durban International Film
Festival, Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa. During that time she also worked on the program for Durban FilmMart (the co-production market of the festival) and Talents Durban (a career development program for emerging African filmmakers in partnership with Berlinale Talents). She continues to work as a program curation associate for the Durban FilmMart. She also programmed and curated the city of Durban’s inaugural book and art fair, ARTiculate Africa.