Tom Tykwer’s Kenyan shingle One Fine Day Films recently returned to the Toronto Intl. Film Festival with “Kati Kati,” the company’s fifth movie, and its first TIFF selection since “Something Necessary” in 2013.
Pic, which is screening at the Joburg Film Festival, is the feature directorial debut for Mbithi Masya, a member of Kenya’s acclaimed alternative house-funk trio, Just a Band.
The multi-talented creative has directed numerous short films, documentaries, commercials, music videos, and video installations, but felt he was ready to move in a new direction.
“This came at what I feel is a perfect time,” says Masya, who along with his bandmates announced a hiatus earlier this year to pursue personal projects.
“Kati Kati” opens with a shot of a woman standing in an empty field, unsure of how she got there. She soon discovers that she’s dead, and now finds herself trapped at the mysterious wilderness lodge from which the movie takes its name.
Shot entirely on location at a working safari lodge, the movie has an intimate scope that Masya says suits his first foray into feature films.
“I’m used to working on a small scale,” he says. “I think if they told me to write a big African epic … I would have been out of my depth.”
While Just a Band is perhaps in its own short-term limbo, Masya credits the trio for allowing his fellow band members and him to find their creative voice, likening it to “a playground to teach ourselves and push ourselves so that we could be able to do things like this.”
“Kati Kati” was produced by One Fine Day Films and Kenyan production house Ginger Ink, with support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Goethe Foundation, Arri, and Deutsche Welle’s DW Akademie, a nonprofit sponsoring media development. World sales are being handled by Rushlake Media. Festival rights are represented by The Festival Agency. It had its world premiere Saturday as part of TIFF’s Discovery program.