×

Kenya Picks Berlinale Crowd-Pleaser ‘Supa Modo’ as Its Oscar Hopeful

Likarion Wainaina’s “Supa Modo,” about a mother determined to bring joy to her dying daughter’s last days, is Kenya’s submission for the foreign-language Oscar race. The film, which world premiered in the Berlinale’s Generation Kplus program last February, was selected by the Kenya Film Commission on Friday.

Produced by Tom Tykwer’s Kenyan shingle, One Fine Day Films, and Kenya’s Ginger Ink, “Supa Modo” is the uplifting tale of a terminally ill girl whose village comes together to fulfill her dreams of becoming a superhero, convincing her she has special powers and casting her as the star of her very own movie. The film, which stars veteran actors Maryanne Nungo and Nyawara Ndambia alongside newcomer Stycie Waweru, earned a Children’s Jury Special Mention in Berlin.

“Supa Modo” is the sixth feature from One Fine Day Films and Ginger Ink, and their third Oscar hopeful, after 2012’s “Nairobi Half Life,” directed by Tosh Gitonga, and “Kati Kati,” by Mbithi Masya, which was submitted to the Academy last year. “Supa Modo” has enjoyed a lively run since its Berlin premiere, screening at more than 30 festivals around the globe.

“It’s been a very trying time for film and freedom of expression in this country,” said Ginger Wilson of Ginger Ink. “I hope this little film with a big heart catches the attention of the Academy and disproves the notion that feel-good films are impossible contenders for this category.”

For a country not known as a cinematic powerhouse, the race for this year’s Oscar nod in Kenya was surprisingly competitive, with “Supa Modo” beating out Wanuri Kahiu’s “Rafiki,” the lesbian love story that was banned by the Kenyan government just weeks before its world premiere in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. The country’s film classification board said the film was an attempt to “legitimize lesbianism” in the East African nation, where homosexuality is illegal.

Last week, a judge temporarily lifted the ban, opening the door for “Rafiki” to be submitted for the foreign-language Oscar race, which requires that nominees must be shown in their country of origin for seven straight days. The film has played to sold-out screenings all week.

Kahiu tweeted her congratulations to the “Supa Modo” team after hearing the news on Friday. “What joy!!! We celebrate this beautifully, [sic] magical film,” she wrote.

More Film

  • Jodie Foster'Money Monster' photocall, Palais, 69th

    Film News Roundup: Jodie Foster to Direct, Star in Remake of Icelandic Thriller

    In today’s film news roundup, Jodie Foster is remaking Iceland’s “Woman at War,” the Art Directors Guild honors production designers Anthony Masters and Ben Carre, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” gets cast and Melissa Takal directs “New Year New You” for Hulu. PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT Jodie Foster will direct, co-produce and star in an English-language remake of [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal to Star in Remake of Denmark's Oscar Entry 'The Guilty' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bold Films, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker’s Nine Stories banner have acquired the rights to remake the Danish thriller “The Guilty,” with Gyllenhaal attached to star. The pic won the world cinema audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and was also named one of the top five foreign language films of 2018 by [...]

  • Toxic Avenger

    'Toxic Avenger' Movie in the Works at Legendary

    Legendary Entertainment is developing “The Toxic Avenger” as a movie after acquiring the feature film rights. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers. Alex Garcia and Jay Ashenfelter will oversee for Legendary. Kaufman and Herz produced the original 1984 comedy, set in the fictional town of Tromaville, N.J., and centered [...]

  • Constance Wu

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Star Constance Wu in Negotiations for Romantic Comedy

    “Crazy Rich Asians” star Constance Wu is in talks to join Sony’s Screen Gems’ untitled romantic comedy, with Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman producing. “GLOW” actress Kimmy Gatewood is making her feature directorial debut on the project. She will be directing from a Savion Einstein script about a woman who becomes pregnant with two babies [...]

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal AoA

    Maggie Gyllenhaal on Why a Woman Director Doesn't Automatically Make a Story More Feminine

    Having a female director doesn’t automatically make a story more feminine, says “The Kindergarten Teacher” star Maggie Gyllenhaal, but when it comes to her film with director Sara Colangelo, she says the female narrative is fully encapsulated. “Just because something is written or directed by a woman doesn’t necessarily make it a feminine articulation,” she says [...]

  • Kevin Hart Hurricane Harvey

    Academy Looks Warily at Oscar Host Options as Board Meeting Looms

    Kevin Hart’s abrupt departure as Oscars host has left the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences scrambling to find someone to take the gig. As of now, the situation remains fluid as the group’s leadership explores options, including going host-less, individuals familiar with the situation told Variety. The Academy was blindsided by Hart’s announced departure Thursday [...]

  • Regina King Maggie Gyllenhaal

    Maggie Gyllenhaal, Regina King on Intimacy Experts: 'I Could Have Used the Help When I Was Younger'

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sex-trade industry series “The Deuce” features one job that’s unlike any other in television: an intimacy expert. During her Variety Actors on Actors interview with Regina King, “The Kindergarten Teacher” actress explained how the strange role is actually important in helping young actresses stand up for themselves, especially when it comes to sex scenes on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content