Thursday begun without my morning coffee. It was 7.55am and the student café was still closed. I was standing outside the library waiting for Cara to come pick me up. She’d drop me off at the train station on her way to school and I would travel to Dresden to eventually get to Hamburg.
When I got word from my sister, Lizz Njagah, that Veve would be doing a screening tour in Germany, I was ecstatic. May seem a bit over exaggerated but see it from my perspective. I’d been reading all the reviews and many comments on the success of the movie back home. Knowing that my location would not allow me a chance to watch it I did what all us diasporians do-toughen up. Then Lizz inboxes me asking if I would be able to make the premiere screening. Why of course yes! And she would be there as well – ecstatic!
Reference to the Mkenya Ujerumani site gave me the details I needed. There would be multiple screenings all over the country starting off with 2 shows in Hamburg during the Hamburg International Film fest. What made it even better was that the Hamburg screening would fall on a long weekend as Friday was a public holiday – Tag der Deutschen Einheit (day of German Unification, the German independence day some said). A long weekend would mean I could get the crew together, invite them for the movie and throw in a weekend tour of the city into the plans. I spread the word on all channels I knew (and in this age of social media that sure is a whole lot) and there we were, 7 people all set for Veve and a great weekend. After the Kino tickets, bus tickets and accommodation were booked there was only 1 problem left – what to wear?! One thing was for sure though-the heels definitely had to go in the bag.
Check in Hamburg!…after loads of drama trying to make it across the country though. The short version of my Amazing Race experience was: I missed my train to Dresden, thus I missed my bus (cue Kriss Kross song), so I had to get a carpool to Berlin where the buses to Hamburg would be cheaper and much more. I finally made it to Hamburg, found the café Alex and Lizz were in and the hustle of my long day enroute instantly vanished. Seeing them, it felt like home. A mini-family reunion on a different continent. Sigh…
The Veve premiere screening was that night but I would watch it on Friday once the rest of our group had arrived from their different corners.
Friday set off with a tour of Hamburg. Armed with a group ticket, map and suggestions from a local Hamburger (yes, the people are called that) we boarded the tram… and then soon got lost.
The city is beautiful and even when unsure of one’s path, one still is a tourist. Established on the banks of the River Elbe as a port famous for its fish and harbours, the history of Hamburg is rich, diverse..and fishy. Watching the massive cruise ships go by I had to remind myself constantly that this indeed was just a river and not a bay in an ocean.
Veve was going to screen at 5pm and we made it just in the stroke of time. Perhaps we were a tad to fabulously dressed but when did a woman ever complain about that. 2 friends would be abit late but the 4 of us drove like madmen to get there in time.
Finally. Seated in the sold out cinema for the moment we had come all the way for, the anticipation as the cinema went dark and the screen lit up had me trembling in my chair. Cue opening shot of the Veve being plucked, sorted, packed and transported and I got lost…..
90 minutes later with my eyes glistening from balancing tears, the director-Simon Mukali, Lizz and Emo made their way to the front for a QnA session. As the audience clapped, it played out like a movie as 1 then the next stood up to give a standing ovation to the team. And well deserved that ovation was. Undoubtedly one of the best Kenyan movies that has ever been produced, I applaud Simon for bringing out this story in such a real and fascinating way. I admit that I cried during 1 scene. Darn the production team-One Fine Day films, for doing such a great job of building up to that scene and making me relate with the characters. I applaud the writer, Natasha Likimani, for her skill. I look forward to her next African story. I applaud the actors-the fresh talent that was used, the seasoned greats, the normal everyday folk with not a day’s acting experience that Simon had his hand at tutoring to perfection. It all came together superbly.
My one complaint goes to all those Kenyans/East Africans/ Africans living in Hamburg and the adjacent regions who did not come out to support their own. I could count the Kenyans (and Africans) that showed up for both the screenings ON ONE HAND. Both cinemas were close to full capacity though and that was good. The film is still on tour and I encourage you to catch it (or to redeem yourself if you are Kenyan). Below are the details you need to know. Pick a Kino, grab a few friends, book your tickets and let’s support an amazing film. And perhaps you may just see me at another show – planning on taking more friends to watch it.
If you are in Kenya, I know it’s still showing. Go check it out and I’d love to get comments on how you found it.
To Alex, Lizz, Cara, Emily, Given, Makau, Oli and Nthambe, turn down for what?!