Does Kenya’s New Film Justify Organised Crime?
As Nairobi residents wait for the first public screening of STRATA, a fictional film set in their city with bated breath on August 22, 2014, we review the film; a microcosm of the larger Kenyan society that is characterised by greed, corruption, racism, violence, revenge, injustice and extra-judicial killing. In 106 minutes that swing between the present and the past through flashback, STRATA tells the story of an apparently model citizen, caring son and loving fiancé who is killed in a botched up business deal leaving his wife-to-be to seek the ever elusive justice in Kenya for him. The viewer is likely to be left wondering whether STRATA is not justifying crime. After all everyone has a reason for doing what they do, don’t they? That corruption is the order of the day in Kenya is brought out where public service—viewing the remains of one’s dead at the morgue—that should be provided free of charge cannot be accessed unless one bribes. Even confidential information becomes public through bribing the medics. Criminals use women to lure their victims to the scene of crime as no one ever suspects the ‘fair sex’ of being capable of harming anyone. STRATA is scripted and directed by Cajetan Boy, a performing artist, playwright and screen writer. The director uses flashbacks to tell the story. The message of the film is delivered through use of several flashbacks that help the audience to connect the various dots in the story. Many of the cast members in the film were not only fitting their roles but are also familiar faces on the Nairobi theatre and screen scene with the ability to draw their fans to the screening at Alliance Francaise August 22-24, 2014.Lead actor Gilbert Lukalia does not come out as hardened criminal apart from being seen assembling an arsenal of deadly looking arms of the criminal trade. The sound in some scenes is hardy audible. There is bad lighting in scenes like the reggae club. STRATA, according to ArtMatters.Info, shall be shown at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi on August 22, 2014 followed by eight other shows at the same venue on August 23 and August 24 before panning out to the rest of the country. While each guest to the premiere shall pay Sh1 000, tickets to the other shows will cost Sh200 (adults) and Sh100 (students). Shows for students are scheduled for 11.00AM-1.30PM on both August 23 and 24. It will be accompanied by discussion on how to make high quality films on low budgets. “The idea behind these special shows for students is to open up the mind of students because ‘small budget’ is one of the main challenges in a country like Kenya whose film sector is still not able to support itself,” Boy tells ArtMatters.Info. Review by Wairimu Wanjage