The AMVCA – Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards – are spearheaded by MultiChoice to celebrate the best of films in Africa. There are different categories and ‘Kukuri’ is one of the four films nominated as Best Movie Southern Africa (the other three are from Zambia and Malawi). The ceremony will take place in Nigeria on 14 March 2020.
The film was written based on the testimony of girls who were forced to marry as part of their tradition.
It was workshopped with community members from Omega in the Kavango East region of Namibia where child marriage still happens. While we were working on the script, the headman (local chief) from a community called Omega in Kavango East approached us. He was concerned by the issue of child marriage in his community and asked if we could involve his community in the project. With his blessing, we came to Omega. We then decided to make it a full community project.
None of the actors are professional and all but one are local (George Antonio is also from the Kavango region but from a town called Rundu). Most couldn’t speak English (local languages in the area include Khoe, Mbukushu, and Oshiwambo) and most could actually not read. Working on the script and learning lines was, therefore, a difficult exercise for participants in the project. They had to spend lots of time repeating and trying to make the words theirs.
Philippe Talavera, the director, explained ‘As a director, since I don’t speak any of those languages, something interesting happened. It was actually very liberating not to focus on words but on the melody of the phrase and the body and facial expression of people. We learned ways to communicate and to work together and after two months we were ready to shoot. It is quite extraordinary that a film made with community members in a local setting is nominated as the best movie in Southern Africa. It is a great honor for us all.’
Kukuri follows the story of a young girl from the Kavango region. She is a bright student at school and dreams of becoming a lawyer. Little does she know that her family plans on marrying her to Chindo, the local brick-layer. When the news breaks, she has to leave school. Chindo and her grand-mother tell her she will only go back to school after she has given Chindo a child. As she is about to give in, her teacher tells her that child marriage is now unlawful in Namibia. But she has to open a case against both Chindo and her own parents. Her options become to remain married or to risk sending her own parents in jail? What will she do? What can she do?