The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is back in September, and this time two Kenyan films are premiering at the international party. The festival runs from September 8 to 18.
The films that will be presented at the 47th annual ceremony, Baba and Free moneyare both produced by LBx Africa, a Nairobi-based production company run by creative producer Bramwel Iro and director/producer Sam Soko.
Baba is directed by Mbithi Masya and tells the fictional story of a boy with supernatural powers.
“On the outskirts of Nairobi, a six-year-old boy with the unique ability to teleport struggles to make sense of his world and the people around him. Buoyed by childlike optimism and an extraordinary imagination, he bounces between his harsh reality and the peaceful solitude his abilities afford him, as he learns to protect his innocence,” reads the description for the film on the LBx Africa website.
Masya describes the film as one that delicately touches on the important subject of abuse.
“There’s no way a short film could fully address abuse, and forcing it to do so would do the issues a disservice. It’s a little peek into this kid’s perspective to see how he’s trying actively to protect themselves,” he said in an interview in August.
Masya had several other productions premiering at the festival. His feature debut, which was produced by award-winning German director Tom Tykwer, One Fine Day Films and Ginger Ink Productions, won several international awards, including the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award as part of the Discovery program at Toronto 2016. International Film Festival.
Free moneyon the other hand, is a non-fiction documentary produced by LBx Africa in collaboration with Insignia Films, a New York-based film company.
“When Universal Basic Income (UBI) arrives in the Kenyan village of Kogutu, lives are changed forever. GiveDirectly, one of the fastest growing nonprofits of the 21st century, is sending money free for 12 years as part of the world’s largest UBI experience,” says LBx Africa on its website. .
He adds: “Filmmakers Lauren DeFilippo and Sam Soko juxtapose the stories of these young economists, funded by Silicon Valley and convinced that they have found a foolproof algorithm to end poverty in the world, with portraits of Kenyans locals whose lives are dramatically impacted for better and for worse.
“UBI is at the forefront of political debate like never before, thanks to Andrew Yang’s presidential candidacy, covid stimulus packages and ongoing lawsuits around the world. This documentary is a compelling case study in the life in a village turned into a petri dish from the point of view of those who live this revolutionary idea.
On its website, TIFF describes Free Money as a “timely documentary” that “recounts the consequences, both intended and unintended, when everyone in a Kenyan village is offered a universal basic income by an American organization”.
Sam Soko says the documentary aims to bridge the gap between two different experiences and what happens when we attempt to navigate between the two worlds when they collide.
TIFF is said to be one of the biggest film festivals in the world, attracting over 480,000 people a year.
This year’s festival features “11 days of international and Canadian cinema, special events featuring some of the biggest names in cinema and the TIFF industry conference, offering diverse and innovative perspectives on the art and cinema business.