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Sundance: PBS POV Acquires Kenyan Doc ‘Softie’ (EXCLUSIVE)

PBS’s documentary arm POV has snapped up U.S. broadcast rights for Kenyan director Sam Soko’s “Softie,” fresh off its world premiere in the World Documentary Cinema competition at Sundance, Variety has learned.

The film, which is the first Kenyan-produced movie to premiere at the festival, will air as part of the series’ 33rd season, which kicks off on PBS in June.

The doc follows political activist Boniface “Softie” Mwangi, who decides to run for office after years of fighting injustice in Kenya. While campaigning, Mwangi begins to realize the difficulty of combating his corrupt opponents with idealism alone, and soon finds that challenging the country’s entrenched political dynasties is putting his family at risk. The daring and audacious activist is then forced to decide if country really comes before family, as he’s always believed.

“Telling a story that speaks to our experiences, triumphs and tears as Kenyans, and have it resonate with the world, is an incredible honor,” said Soko, co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that was the service producer for the 2018 Oscar-nominated short film “Watu Wote.”

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“As a first from Kenya, I hope the film inspires audiences to become active citizens in their own right, and find harmony with those they are fighting for and alongside.”

Chris White, executive producer of POV, added: “When Justine Nagan and I saw ‘Softie’ pitched at Hot Docs years ago, we knew we had to get involved. The team is talented and vibrant, and the story of an activist turned politician feels urgent. It’s a classic POV and we’re thrilled to premiere it at Sundance and bring it to American audiences later this year.”

“Softie” was produced by LBx Africa in association with We Are Not The Machine and EyeSteelFilm, with the support of Luminate, JustFilms/Ford Foundation, the Sundance Institute, the Bertha Doc Society, the Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund, the Hot Docs first look fund, the Quebec Production Services Tax Credit, Hot Docs Partners and Docubox.

The deal was negotiated by Justine Nagan and Chris White on behalf of POV, and Toni Kamau from We Are Not The Machine and Bob Moore from EyeSteelFilm on behalf of “Softie.”

Produced by American Documentary and broadcasting on PBS since 1988, POV is American television’s longest-running documentary series. Other titles that will air when the 33rd season begins this summer are “Advocate,” by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche, and the two-part special “And She Could Be Next,” by Grace Lee, Marjan Safinia, and Jyoti Sarda.

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