Kenyan film feted in Canada for fighting disability myths

Festival director Sheryl Lenthall, ‘Lisilojulikana’ director Aggie Nyagari and festival host Lisa Shaw /COURTESY
Festival director Sheryl Lenthall, ‘Lisilojulikana’ director Aggie Nyagari and festival host Lisa Shaw /COURTESY

Kenyan movie Lisilojulikana, otherwise known as The Unknown, has received international recognition for the second time, this time at the just-concluded Picture This… Film Festival in Calgary, Canada.

The film won the Special Mentions Award for a drama over 30 minutes and the prestigious Dodie Spittal Award.

Film director, editor and co-writer Aggie Nyagari

was in Canada to receive the two awards.

Based on a true story, Lisilojulikana

is about a young girl who suffers from cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage that occurs from complications in childbirth. Following her father’s death, she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Nyahururu.

The community dreads having a “cursed” child brought into their midst, fearing that the curse will spread to others, and some people try to insist that she not be allowed in. However, they soon discover that she is very bright, and she wins everyone’s heart through sheer courage and determination.

Previously, the film won

the Award for Public Awareness

during World Cerebral Palsy Day in October last year.

The main objective of the film is to dispel the belief that disability is a curse, as is still believed widely in the country, and indeed, in many parts of the world.

Since its release in 2016,

Lisilojulikana

has been screened over 250 times around the country using a solar-powered cinema kit, allowing it to penetrate the most remote regions in the country.

Salome Mwaniki, the volunteer working with the organisation, has managed to reach 27,000 people all over the country, discovering numerous children kept hidden due to the shame and ignorance on how to handle the condition.

Purple Field Production, the UK-based charity organisation behind the

film's

creation, is currently trying to raise funds to allow the film to be screened in Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi.