DIFF student review – It Is Us: Kenyan film resonates with SA audiences

2013-07-25 12:26

City Press is proud to host student reviews of the films on offer at the Durban International Film Festival. The students are postgraduates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Culture, Communication and Media Studies department.

Acclaimed Kenyan feature film It Is Us (Ni Sisi) is a heartwarming portrayal of what it means to overcome.

The film is based on real events in which politicians demonise different tribes and political unrest unfolds.

First, the audience meets Jabali, who acts as a narrator, introducing his mother and two aunts, Maria, an inspiring pastor, and Zippy, a skilled hairdresser.

The humorous banter between the three women is truly lovable as they vie for new arrival Roxanna’s attention.

Their Kenyan hospitality is vividly expressed as Roxanna is welcomed as an honorary family member after the death of her mother. While Roxanna is mocked by the likes of Kate, she befriends Scola and they join forces with Jabali to prevent division among the people.

With cunning and courage they ambush the antagonist, Mzitso, as he attempts to hold a political campaign in Maria’s church. Mzitso’s corrupt strategies are revealed and the people unite.

The tribes used in the film are made up, which attests to the film’s antitribalism and antixenophobic messages.


The film’s comical edge makes it relatable in that it captures the spirit of humanity. The vibrancy of Kenyan life is colourfully portrayed and the film has a sense of truth to it. It is an expression of joy that is sincere because it comes after pain.

Audience members in Durban commented that the film was “moving” and “beautiful”.

The film has also been favourably received in Kenya.

While director Nick Reding said the film was made for Kenyans, he was delighted that the film could find relevance elsewhere. One audience member called it a “metaphor for Africa”.

The film emerged from a play, which was produced as part of Safe, a Kenyan NGO and UK Charity which inspires social change via street theatre and films, tackling issues such as gender discrimination, health and environmental sustainability.

It Is Us, Safe’s second feature film, is set to follow on the success of their first film, Ndoto Za Elibidi, which has won 10 international awards.

» This film is scheduled for two more screenings at DIFF on July 26 and 27. View the full programme here.

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