Boniface Mwangi’s docufilm Softie that chronicles his life and family will premiere in Kenya on October 16, 2020, in various cinemas.
The 96 minutes film – dubbed Softie after his childhood nickname – sheds light on the lesser known struggles and accomplishments of the sociopolitical activist.
The film, directed by Sam Soko, will be in screened in Eldoret (Rupa Cinema), Mombasa (Nyali Cinemax), Kisumu (Mega Cinema) and at Prestige Cinema, Anga Diamond Plaza, Motion Cinema and Westgate Cinema, in Nairobi.
“It unveils the curtain of the struggles of activists; my personal struggles as a father. It’s brutally honest. You will see the tears. I have watched it two times and cried both times because it’s visceral and heartbreaking to see what kind of country we have. It reveals our true colours as a nation and the role of money and ethnicity in politics,” Mwangi says of the film.
The film chronicles a seven-year journey beginning with chaos-filled street protests and culminating in Mwangi’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.
Mwangi ran for the Starehe parliamentary seat during the 2017 General Elections under Ukweli Party but lost to musician-turned-politician Charles ‘Jaguar’ Kanyi.
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 change makers have had to ask themselves, ‘What comes first – family or country?’
Should country really come before family, as he has always believed?
The movie’s synopsis, describes Mwangi as 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.
Also, running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents proves hard to combat with idealism alone.
His moments with Njeri and their children will deepen the viewers’ understanding of the aspiring elected official, offering introspective respites from the turbulent pace of the campaign.
Though set against the backdrop of a country in transition, Softie goes beyond politics to reveal what fuels one activist’s need to push for change.
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The director of the movie, Sam Soko, captures a charming idealist’s transformation through his grassroots campaign, while exploring the complexities of balancing Mwangi’s deep love of country with the needs of his family.
The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, winning a special jury prize for editing. It has been greatly reviewed, citing its conscientious story telling of Kenya’s struggle with political tribalism.
It has since played at several prestigious festivals including CPH:DOX, FullFrame 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.