Kenyan doccie ‘Softie’ lands on Oscar 2021 Best Documentaries shortlist


KENYAN documentary ‘Softie’ has achieved recognition since its premiere in October by being shortlisted on the Oscars’ 2021 list for ‘Best Documentary Feature’, a list that features over 40 documentaries from across the world. 

Kenyan director Sam Soko’s debut documentary follows the story of Kenyan photographer and political activist Boniface Mwangi,  and his journey as Kenya’s most vocal agent provocateur for social and political change over seven years. 

The film chronicles Mwangi’s journey with chaos-filled protests, which leads to campaigning on the streets for a political seat in his old neighbourhood of Starehe and risking his family’s safety whilst campaigning. 

A shot of Mwangi in the trailer for Softie. Picture: Youtube

While the country is often celebrated for being one of Africa’s most vibrant economies and entrepreneurial spirit, Mwangi argues in ‘Softie’ that underneath the country’s strong political stance – the foundation of its politics are rotten. 

The film also chronicles Mwangi’s – twice named the CNN Africa photographer of the year – journey which started out as a young photographer, and was well-known for his graphic images from 2007 incident in which protests against the then-preseident’s re-election led to violent clashes between two rival tribal groups in which resulted in a death toll of more than 1000 people.

Mwangi then left his journalism role, and took to a nationwide tour to show Kenyans the violent images which Mwangi believed were provoked by the Kenyan government inability to fulfill their promises made to their people. 

The documentary also follows his acts of protests and his wife, Njeri Mwangi and their children’s travels to the United States to protect themselves from angered politicians and rivals that Mwangi faced in his campaign.

A screenshot of Mwangi with his wife, Njeri Mwangi. Picture: Youtube

Softie was awarded a Special Jury award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won the ‘Best Documentary’ prize at the Durban International Film Festival 2020. Soko’s film then qualified for consideration for the Oscar documentary shortlist for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony.

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