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5 KENYAN FILMS THAT NEED TO BE REMADE



Firstly, that title is definitely click bait, wait before you leave let me tell you about an initiative that was started back in 2013. Maisha Magic, back then called AFRICA MAGIC, under the umbrella of MULTICHOICE set out to make an array of films. The concept was simple, make low budget films (at the time not that low but still low), and have them showcased on their dedicated channel on DSTV. The outcome led to 56 60-minute-long features for the first round and an additional close to 100 films were made between 2013 and 2014, leading into 2015. And there is where I got my first big break in the industry and it was like being thrown straight into the fire. You would start filming on a Monday, you need to be done on Friday if you are lucky but Saturday was most wrap times. You would receive next weeks script as you are filming, in between you need to assist in casting, prepping by the time you wrap on Saturday. Talk to your new cast on Sunday and start the new film by Monday repeat that process again for the coming months. I managed to Direct 9 of these films before I departed for other projects but let me tell you it was one of the toughest, fondest and heart pounding moments of my career. Now almost 10 years later, and considering that the project has once again been restarted by MAISHA MAGIC, I look back and wonder about how those films would have turned out if they had been done now. The industry has seen tremendous growth in such a short period and I feel those stories should get the decent upgrade that they deserve. Back then we were young and somewhat inexperienced, we had limited technology and limited resources to work with but now, now would be a good time to revisit some of those stories and showcase our language as Kenyan filmmakers. Besides we are in the era of remakes, adaptations and sequels galore. So, when I discovered that almost all of those films were available on SHOWMAX I jumped on the opportunity to watch the more than 100 AFRICA MAGIC films that were on the platform (Hey I just wrapped filming a TV series and this is how I spend my holidays, I have no life I know). It took me 1 and half years to watch all of them but now I had to boil them down to my 5 picks. So let me give you the correct “non-click bait” title; here are 5 AFRICA MAGIC FILMS THAT NEED TO BE REMADE


DISCLAIMER- Most of the films start off very slow and pick up about the 5th-10th minute mark, so give each film time to build up or if you like to play Russian roulette and just jump to any minute between 5-10 and try figure out the story, go for it, who knows it may become a whole new adventure.


  1. HOME


Slow paced and stiff at times but it is full of heart and good intentions and sturdy performances. A general note for all the films is, I wish our characters spoke more Swahili or vernacular, this is just my taste.

There is no urgency in this plot and maybe that is why I liked it. It was just basically a showcase of a family’s drama, something most people can relate with. Keep holding on to the slow pace as there is a payoff for all that underlying tension. The handheld camera work can leave you queasy at times and there could be better music choices but there is something so pure and honest about this film that I fell for it instantly.

A modern retelling could definitely update the plot and family dynamics more, with better sets and more investment in the characters and buildup of tension. I see a fun ride as we explore the characters more.




2. THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU


FIRST, MORE SWAHILI PLEASE, Okay let’s move on. A LOT of potential. You get the feeling that if it had an extra 10-15 minutes a lot of things would have been fleshed out including Simon’s character.

A really decent effort here, it’s not an easy story to pull off within a small budget but a modern retelling would ensure more action sequences, better sets and an even darker tone. With where we are in the cyber world and cyber crime a modern take could lean towards the cybercrime sub-genre and offer audiences a more updated threat but let me stop “directing” the movie and just say this is one that needs to be remade. Decent effort with the constraints, plot reveals could have been handled better and could do with a better third act. All in all, lovely.




3. LAST HOPE


Oh my, I don’t know what to say about this film, it had so much promise, it started with such amazing stakes. The film had an opportunity to showcase a relevant story about the how two factions of our society struggle with their existence and the tough choices they have to make. Even now our medical practitioners are still striking over wages and our civil servants are under paid.

This film would have explored such details and had a compelling voice to say on the matter however the film diverts from a faulty act two and dives into some melodrama that, however compelling, feels lost as a bigger voice was laid to rest by end of act one. A remake would do well to scrap the second act and follow both sides i.e. Dr. Pamba (change name) played by the ever eloquent Tony Njuguna and Jonah, played reflectively by Timothy Kowino, as both have to live with the choices they have to make in order to survive. Overall, it is definitely a story worth revisiting and made into a relevant film with a loud voice about our society.




4. ONE FOR THE ROAD



Starts off with so much promise, I was laughing out loud at places. Despite the technical issues and awkward pauses and repetition it’s actually a funny mystery film that if remade now could offer even more bizarre encounters and stretch and scale up this simple story with some intriguing characters, with sharper direction and an edgier style of storytelling.

It’s amazing how this simple story just hooks you and the lead actor, Onyango Oron, is hilarious at times and was great to watch. It was also good to see the late Harry Ebale (the chief) on screen as well. It definitely has a disappointing ending but a rewrite would fix that right up.





5. GUN THEORY



This has to be my best of the AFRICA MAGIC bunch, an excellent story, brilliantly written and ahead of its time. I feel it was lost in the entire arsenal of all the films. Each character is open for us to study and with its well-handled direction, the film is amazing to watch but this film feels unfinished especially by the end.


There is so much fodder, so much character, so much room for expansion that it feels wrong not to remake this. A remake would polish the story more, flesh out the characters more, be bolder with the plot, add more style to the filmmaking, give room to breathe, resolve what needs resolving there is just so much here to work with that I beseech the lords that be to just get this film remade. It is a film that more people have to watch and a story that NEEDS to be retold and done justice.


Reminds me of, well this film just has a voice of its own and I am forcing this just for references sake THE LAST CASTLE (2001) Trailer meets THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994) Trailer



So that concludes my list, this is NOT a paid partnership, I wish it was, but if you want to watch more Kenyan/African content I recommend getting SHOWMAX and if you want to watch the new batch of MAISHA MAGIC films then GOTV/DSTV is for you, though some of the new batch can be found on SHOWMAX. And if you want me to create more lists just let me know and give me ideas on what you think I should go for next. Next up I might watch the 100 classic African films on SHOWMAX and just put them up, hopefully not after a year and a half.

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