Oscars 2023: Kenya Nominates ‘Mvera’ in the Race for Best International Feature Film

Kenya is once again marking its presence at the 96th Academy Awards by nominating the compelling drama ‘Mvera’ for the Best International Feature Film category. Directed by the talented Daudi Anguka, this film intertwines English and Swahili, encapsulating the vibrant essence of Kenyan culture.

‘Mvera’ is not just a title; it embodies the spirit of the film’s protagonist, named after the Swahili word for ‘blessing.’ The narrative follows Mvera, portrayed brilliantly by Linah Sande, as she unveils a sinister organ trafficking ring that preys on individuals with dreams of overseas opportunities. Set against the backdrop of a coastal community outside Mombasa, the story touches upon deep-seated issues of corruption and exploitation. Interestingly, Mvera’s character draws inspiration from Mekatilili Wa Menza, a revered Kenyan independence activist.

Supporting Sande’s powerful portrayal are commendable performances by actors like Patrick Owino, Hillary Namanje, Kibibi Salim, Susan Kadid, and Carorita Mutua. The film’s compelling narrative and stellar performances aren’t its only attractions. Anguka, already renowned for works such as ‘Zilizala’ and the popular telenovelas ‘Pete’ and ‘Sanura’, exhibits his directorial finesse in ‘Mvera’. His production banner, the Mombasa-based AR-Film Production, backs the project.

Since its premiere in Mombasa on September 9, ‘Mvera’ has witnessed a countrywide release, garnering attention and applause. The Kenyan Film Commission publicly endorsed the film as the country’s official Oscars 2023 entry, choosing it over noteworthy contenders like William Okoth’s ‘Unheard Voices’ and Wangechi Ngugi’s ‘Shimoni’. Both had made waves in the global film circuit, with ‘Shimoni’ being showcased at prestigious festivals like the Red Sea International Film Festival and Rotterdam.

Krysteen Savane, the chairperson of Kenya’s Oscar Committee, expressed her admiration for the movies submitted this year, noticing an evident uplift in storytelling and acting prowess. Although Kenya began its Oscar journey in 2012 and has proposed seven films since a nomination has remained elusive. With films like ‘Mvera’, the nation hopes to change that narrative soon. Recent aspirants from Kenya include ‘Mission To Rescue’ and ‘TeraStorm’, showcasing the country’s evolving cinema landscape.

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