“Softie”, an Award-winning Kenyan film featuring Boniface Mwangi and family, premiers in Kenyan Cinema this October. It is a love story that captures the courageous journey and untold stories of sacrifice, family, and purpose. Besides winning multiple awards, like the Best Documentary Award at Durban International Film Festival, “Softie”, the 96-minute film written and directed by Sam Soko, poses a question: “What comes first, country or family?”
Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family? Just by looking at people’s responses to Softie the Film Trailer, you can tell that Kenya is ready for this story.
Softie the Film Official Trailer – Film by Sam Soko
Winner Special Jury Prize for Editing at the Sundance Film Festival and Opening Night Film at the Hotdocs Film Festival.
Boniface “Softie” Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country as a political activist. Now he’s taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election.
From the moment Boniface decides to run, telling his wife, Njeri, in passing with a hesitant laugh, he responds to each challenge with optimism. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents becomes increasingly harder to combat with idealism alone.
And Boniface soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. Should the country really come before family, as he’s always believed?Softie the Film Trailer
Full “SOFTIE” film Airing Schedule in Kenya:
The powerful film “SOFTIE” that follows the life of Kenyan photographer and political activist Boniface Mwangi, his wife Njeri, and their kids, will premiere nationwide in Kenya, starting 16th October 2020 in Eldoret (Rupa Cinema), Mombasa (Nyali Cinemax), Kisumu (Mega Cinema) and at Prestige Cinema, Anga Diamond Plaza, Motion Cinema and Westgate Cinema, in Nairobi.
From October 17th 2020
Ngong Road, Nairobi
ANGA DIAMOND PLAZA
From October 16th 2020
From October 16th 2020
Full “SOFTIE” film airing schedule here.
Softie the Film Reviews:
About the Softie the Film
At the heart of the film lies the tale of how Boniface, nicknamed “Softie” in his childhood years, has long fought injustices in his country Kenya. He is daring and audacious and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri Mwangi whose loyalty to her family is hard as a rock. It’s a story of perseverance and love, evoking mixed emotions while exploring the themes of family, sacrifice and patriotism.
Boniface Mwangi says of the film, “It unveils the curtain of the struggles of activists; my personal struggles as a father. It’s brutally honest. You will see tears. I have watched it two times and cried both times because it’s visceral and heartbreaking to see what kind of country we have. It reveals our true colours as a nation and the role of money and ethnicity in politics.”
Directed by Sam Soko, the film chronicles a 7 year journey beginning with chaos filled street protests and culminating in Boniface’s decision to run for a political seat in his old neighbourhood Starehe. He soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. His wife, Njeri, has long been silent in the background. The decision to run put her and the family on the spot. This brings forth a central question that many of the world’s brightest and most effective changemakers have had to ask themselves, ‘What comes first – family or country?’
The film premiered at Sundance in January 2020, winning a special jury prize for editing. It has been greatly reviewed, citing its conscientious story telling of Kenya’s struggle with political tribalism. It has since played at a couple of prestigious festivals including CPH:DOX, FullFrame and even won Best Film at the Encounters International Documentary Festival and Best Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) 2020. The DIFF win means that “SOFTIE”now qualifies for consideration for the Oscar documentary shortlist for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The next ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on April 25, 2021.
Softie was also the opening night film at the Hotdocs Film Festival and at the Human Rights Festival held in Berlin, Germany under the patronage of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad with opening and keynote speeches having included Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
For Njeri Mwangi, having their private family life on screen has been a difficult and rewarding experience. She says, “ This film is not just a single story but the story of what women and mothers and wives like myself give to the cause of what they too believe in but whose contribution is not counted as significant or acknowledged as prominently as their partners. It has given me a voice and hopefully a chance for women to see themselves and count their contributions to the betterment of not only their families but also their communities and country,” adding, “To all the women out there, this film is for you and your families. We too matter!”
Ahead of the nationwide Kenyan viewing of the film starting 16th October 2020 on cinema Boniface says, “It’s a very important film for Kenyans to watch because it shows what happens behind the scenes in an activist’s family life and their daily struggles,” noting, “It took seven years in the making”.
Sam Soko – The Director:
Sam Soko is a director and producer based in Nairobi, Kenya. His work on socio-political projects in music and film has allowed him to connect and work with artists around the world.
He is co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that produced the 2018 Academy Award–nominated short fiction film Watu Wote. The film Softie, his first feature documentary project, premiered at the 2020 Sundance film festival winning a special jury prize for editing. Soko is producing feature documentaries in South Sudan and Kenya.
The stories give insight and prominence to previously unheard voices and are already supported under Generation Africa and Doc Society. He is an outspoken defender of freedom of expression and has taken part in global conversations on how to make media matter when the world is on fire.
“SOFTIE” started coming to shape after director and producer Sam Soko met the character Boniface Mwangi by his close friends and family in 2013.
Soko, who had directed several short music videos and films by that time, decided to try his hand at directing a documentary. What started out as a short video, that he had planned to take a year filming, evolved into a story about politics, family, and what it means to be Kenyan, becoming Soko’s first feature documentary filmed over the course of five years.
Sam Soko knew he had a possible ending for a film, and pushed to do one more year of filming as his political campaign would give much-needed insight into the political and voting process in Kenya. But the material he filmed went far beyond that and gave insight into a young family, in a young democracy that was struggling to balance their love for their country with the needs of their family.
This film comes from a place of love. A love for our country and families. It is told through the lives of the incredible Mwangi family. When we met Boniface we realized that the amazing working he does had many complex layers that many are oblivious too.
We witnessed that the life of an activist conceals many things. As they are up against a society, whose mindsets are difficult to engage, they also have to deal with their own families. Njeri, his wife, has her struggles which mirror many women in our society.
She has long stayed in his shadow, doing her best to keep their family safe. The Mwangi’s are witnesses to what we have gone through as a country for the last 10 years and we are honored and privileged that they allowed us to share this remarkable modern-day Kenyan story.
BONIFACE MWANGI “SOFTIE”
Boniface Mwangi born on July 10, 1983 is a Kenyan photojournalist, politician and activist involved in social-political activism. He is known for his images of the post-election violence that hit Kenya in 2007–2008 and his work as one of Kenya’s most prominent activists.
He published photographs in a national newspaper and in 2005 won his first photography prizes. He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 CNN Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award for the photos that he took, documenting the widespread post-election violence of 2007-2008.
He suffered from PTSD because of all the violence that he witnessed and quit his job as a photographer to work on social justice in Kenya, mainly using street graffiti, art, and street protests to call attention to human rights violations and political corruption in the country. He has been recognized as a global TED fellow for his activism work. One of his longest-lasting initiatives to date is Pawa 254, a hub and space for artists and activists to work together towards social change in Kenya.
NJERI MWANGI – BONIFACE’S WIFE
Njeri Mwangi finished college in 2005 and knew she had to work in social impact but didn’t know where. Her upbringing guides her belief in God and family first. A chance encounter at an ice cream shop with Boniface in 2006 changed her life forever.
Over the years as her husband gained more prominence in public, she has remained in the shadows, raising their three children. She co-founded PAWA 254, one of Nairobi’s first creative social enterprises. Boniface and Njeri have three kids: the eldest is Nate, the middle child is Naila and the last-born is called Jabali.
When her husband announced that he was running for political office in 2016, this decision made her do something she had worked hard to never do—step out of the shadows and share her private life with the world.
Duration: 96 MIN.
Directed and Written by: Sam Soko
Producers – Toni Kamau, Sam Soko
Kenyan Executive Producer – Bramwel Iro
Cinematographer: Joel “Ingo” Ngui, Sam Soko, Chris Rhys Howarth
Additional cinematography : Elijah Kanyi, David Kariuki, Vincent Muthini, Pete Murimi, Bruce Makau, Streeter Phillips, James Quest, Seydou Mukali, Nick Wambugu
Sound recording: Edwin Ahenda, Brian Munene
Line Producers: Ruth Munyiri, Valerie Shamas
Production Manager: Matrid Nyagah, Lola Karisa.
Impact Producer: Miriam Ayoo
World Premiere: Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema Documentary Competition 2020
Winner: Sundance Special Jury Prize for Editing
Winner: Best Documentary at Durban International Film Festival (DIFF)
Winner: Best Documentary Encounters film festival
Hot Docs 2020 Opening Night Film
Softie is a production by LBx Africa in association with We are not the machine and Eyesteelfilm.
For Kenya Media Requests/Book interviews with Boniface Mwangi, Njeri Mwangi, Director Sam Soko or Producer Toni Kamau – kindly contact Anyiko PR via [email protected] | +254721368983