Kenyan movie wins inaugural Mombasa film fest

Sunday February 04 2024

The Kenyan film “Act of Love” poster. The film has scoped the Best Short Film and Best Scriptwriter awards at the Inaugural Mombasa International Film Festival. PHOTO | POOL


The Kenyan film Act of Love has scooped the Best Short Film and Best Scriptwriter awards at the inaugural Mombasa International Film Festival.

Inspired by the writer’s true story, Act of Love is a moving short film set in Nairobi, about Juliana (Mwixx Mutinda), a young mother who holds on to sanity by a thread as her world is turned upside down in search of a livelihood.

After losing her job at a restaurant, Juliana downgrades to a one-roomed house in an informal neighbourhood. Her luck turns when she is shortlisted for an interview, by a top accounting firm.

But, before she can leave her house, the landlord gives her a final notice to pay her rent arrears the same morning. Then, her neighbour, who had promised to watch her two-month-old baby, has a campaign engagement for a local politician.

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Sister Magdalene (Julisa Rowe), despite being sympathetic to Juliana, cannot allow her to leave the baby at church, due to a pandemic of mothers abandoning their children in the compound. Undeterred, Juliana beats the clock and makes it for the interview, her baby in her arms.


A sequence of events, triggered by her baby's cries, makes Juliana lose her promising interview. Broken, frustrated, and holding onto sanity by a thread, she questions her love for her baby.

Asked what this award means to the film and crew, the producer, Shirleen Wangari said: “It means a whole lot; a great team came together and worked the film to the best of their ability, telling this important story that's timeless, inspiring, and really well executed.”

As to what inspired this film, the writer, Shelly Gitonga, said: “It is largely based on my real-life story with my own motherhood journey. The fact that during my struggle with postpartum depression, I was really clinging onto any semblance of a narrative that was similar to mine but as I searched there was none and hence the inspiration to embark on scripting a story that is close to my truth.”

Act of Love was produced by Blackwell Films, in conjunction with Ripple Productions, through funding by Some Fine Day Pix, GIZ, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and DocuBox East Africa Fund; with support Naomi Mburuh Films, Film Studios and Jenga Leo.

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The Mombasa International Film Festival, which was held at Fort Jesus from January 23 to 27,, is a celebration of local and international cinema, offering a diverse selection of films from talented filmmakers; organised by Mombasa County government, Swahilipot Hub and Alliance Française.

The full list of winners;

Best Feature Film - Rishai - Kenya.
Best Coastal Film - Eastzuu - Kenya.
Best Short Film - Act of Love - Kenya.
Best International Short Film - Malaika - South Africa.
Best International Feature Film - Heroes of Africa - Ghana.
Best Editor - Derek Hammeke and MD Neely - Where the River Divides - Kenya.
Best Sound Designer - Monicah Mugo (Mzuka) - Kenya.
Best Child Performer - Kabuye Close (Crystal) - Uganda.
Best Actress - Grace Ngaracu (Eastzuu) – Kenya.
Best Actor - Keith Chuaga - Visasi - Kenya.
Best Scriptwriter - Shelly Gitonga (Act of Love) - Kenya.
Best Cinematographer - Andrew Bradford - Where the River Divides - Kenya.
Best Director - Omar Hamza - Rishai – Kenya.
Best Documentary - Kiswahili Kitukuzwe - Kenya.
Best Film by a Student - Kwani si Kesho? - Kenya (Short Film).
Best Animation Film – Earth’s Children - Kenya.