TALES OF THE ACCIDENTAL CITY – THE MOVIE
Hard-hitting experimental tragicomic film turns Zoom into its stage to spotlight social injustice and inequality in Nairobi.
Tales of the Accidental City is a 55-minute film by first-time movie director and award-winning theatre actor Maïmouna Jallow. Produced by Positively African, the film tells the story of four Nairobi residents who find themselves stuck together in an anger management class after being accused by the courts of various misdemeanours. Diana, Jacinda, Louis Njoroge, and Sarah Obama must explain what got them there, and with the help of their quirky counsellor, find a way to heal their wounds. The play is not only a portrait of Nairobi, but also tells the story of many African cities challenged by population growth, economic inequality and social injustice.
According to Maïmouna Jallow, “through the four characters, I wanted to explore what it means to live in any African city today. I have travelled to all parts of this continent and whether I’m in Nairobi, Accra or Addis, I often feel like our cities are not made for the majority. They are forced to live in the cracks and constantly have to fight a system that should be there to serve them.”
The characters describe various situations they’ve had to confront which led to their violent outbursts, from having a kidnapped child in a busy market, to having their money stolen by an errant husband. Sarah, the youngest characters laments, “We try to live good lives but the city spits us out like cockroaches”.
Nairobi is portrayed as a city that waits for no one, and takes what it can from everyone. But the Director insists that it is also a play about hope and the possibility for change. “The film is set in an anger management session. Counsellor Rose teaches us real ways to de-stress. I want to demystify therapy because, believe me, most of us need it!”
Mercy Mutisya, who plays Jacinda, says that whilst the film tackles difficult topics head on, it is also funny and inspiring. “The characters’ stories may be sad, but the way they tell them and interact with each other is hilarious. And what stands out for me is how they keep soldiering on, despite the hardships that they face. Ultimately they believe in the promise of the city if not they wouldn’t be here.”
The journey to making the film is a story in itself and a testament to how creatives have innovated through the Covid lockdown period.
Tales of the Accidental City started as four short stories from a collection called Humans of Nairobi, by writers Sitawa Namwalie, Kevin Mwachiro, Margaret Muthee and Maïmouna Jallow. Maïmouna Jallow then first adapted them for the stage and then it into a 3-part audio drama before deciding to turn it into a screen-play. “I didn’t set out to make a film. But when it became evident that we would not be able to stage the play any time soon, I decided that rather than shelve the project, we would re-imagine it. I was greatly inspired by shows like “Social Distance” and “Homemade” on Netflix. I was then very lucky to pair up with Director of Photography, Gregory Kiwo, and Editor Faith Musembi, who shared my vision.”
With a budget of only $10,000, thanks to a grant from the African Culture Fund, the film was shot in one location over four days. The actors rehearsed on Zoom and had just one day of tech rehearsals on location, to get used to speaking straight to camera as though they were on a real call on their laptops and mobile phones.
“As artists and directors, we to have to adapt to our new reality. I think this is the first Zoom- film to come out of Kenya!” says Eddy Kimani who plays Louis. “Getting one of the main roles was a breath of life for me after months of lockdown.”
For more information & for interviews contact:
Tel: +254 (0) 701 572757
Film Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HjuFkxRHRY
(If you want to review the film, let us know and we’ll send you a screener).
Maïmouna Jallow is the co-founder and director of Nairobi-based arts and media company Positively African. She is a storyteller, editor, playwright and director, and has written and produced a range of shows, including an award-winning adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, which she toured internationally. In 2021 she released her debut film, Tales of the Accidental City, an experimental feature-length in which all the action takes place on Zoom. She is the editor of Story Story, Story Come – An anthology of 12 African Folktales, published in Dec. 2018. Prior to that, Maimouna worked as a producer for the BBC World Service and as Regional Communications Officer for Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Horn of Africa region. Maïmouna sits on the advisory boards of This is Africa and Wiriko. She holds an MA in African Literature from SOAS, University of London.
About: Positively African
Positively African an organization based in Nairobi that works at the intersection of theatre, arts and social justice. It has as its mission to create content that is powerful, provocative and that can catalyse change at a societal level. We are driven by the desire to tell under- told stories from a local/African perspective.
Wakio Mzenge – Counsellor Rose
Eddy Kimani – Louis Njoroge
Martina Ayoro – Diana Mumbi
Tana Kioko – Sarah Obama
Mercy Mutisya – Jacinda Atemo
Sitawa Namwalie – Louis’ Wife
Riziki Ambrose – Louis’ Househelp
Favour Daliku – Diana’s daughter
Greg Kiwo – DOP
Faith Musembi – Editor and Visual Effects Caroline Mbula – First AD
Vikta Joe & Desmond Okeyo – Sound Recordists Vivian Njeri – Props
Sarah Mallia – Production Coordinator Beverlyn Atisa – Production Assistant
Ngala Oreyo – Aye Kevin Munyi – Solidarity
Udulele John – Katingwati Groove Music Supervision – Matthew Swallow
Black Paint by Sitawa Namwalie
Banana Jam by Kevin Mwachiro Finding Home by Margaret Muthee
God is My Witness by Maimouna Jallow Written and Directed by Maimouna Jallow
Funded by the African Culture Fund and African Publishers Innovation Fund.