Directed by Likarion Wainaina, award-winning Kenyan film Supa Modo tells the story of Jo (Stycie Waweru), a witty nine-year-old terminally ill girl obsessed with Jackie Chan movies and becoming a superhero – a dream her rebellious teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia), overprotective mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfil.
Director Likarion Wainaina says he drew heavily on his own childhood in making this film. “I drew from that time when I was nine years old and I had my first cinema experience in an old shack at the edge of Kibera slums in Kenya.
I saw Jackie Chan star in Legend of the Drunken Master and right there and then I knew I wanted to make films. From that moment onwards, films became my solace. Every Saturday I would go back to that shack and for three shillings per movie, I would let my mind be transported to other worlds. Worlds that gave me hope, excitement and fear.”
Here are five reasons we think Supa Modo should be on top of your watchlist:
#1. ‘Supa Modo’ has won over 50 international awards
Perhaps the most awarded Kenyan film, Supa Modo was named Best European Film For Children from the European Children’s Film Association and won a Children’s Jury Special Mention in the Generation 14Plus category at Berlin in 2018, among many, many other awards.
#2. ‘Supa Modo’ has a rare 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes
The Seattle Times wrote, “I’m glad movie theatres are dark because I ugly-cried my way through all 74 minutes of Supa Modo. I straight-up bawled my eyes out… Brutal and beautiful, melancholy and joyous, Supa Modo is simultaneously crushing and uplifting.”
#3. ‘Supa Modo’ is produced by Tom Tykwer
German director (and composer) Tom Tykwer set up One Fine Day Films in 2008 with his wife Marie, who’d been teaching art in the schools and slums of Nairobi. Together with Nairobi-based partner Ginger Ink, One Fine Day Films has released six award-winning feature films, including Veve, Soul Boy, Something Necessary, Nairobi Half Life; and Kati Kati.
#4. ‘Supa Modo’ is a love letter to the imagination
“What’s the harm in a little pretending?” That’s the central question of Supa Modo, which AwardsCircuit described as “a love letter to cinema…”, Toronto International Film Festival called “a stunning reminder of the power of imagination”, and Little White Lies labeled “a love letter to the power of escapism.”
#5. ‘Supa Modo’ is a celebration of life in the face of death
A film about the inevitable death of a nine-year-old girl is not something you’d expect Variety to call both a “crowdpleaser” and “uplifting.” But Supa Modo is the kind of film that will make you cry and cheer in equal measure; a film that is as aware of how cruel life can be as it is of how powerful families and communities can be when they stand together.
Watch trailer below: