Supa Modo (2018)
Available on Showmax
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When it came to Kenya’s submission for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars this year, many film writers thought celebrated director Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian love story Rafiki would be the pick. But 31-year-old director Likarion Wainaina’s endearing, colourful Supa Modo ended up making the cut.
Supa Modo did not win, with Mexican family drama Roma taking the cake, but the film can still give itself a pat on the back – it’s won over 50 film awards around the world.
The film focuses on nine-year-old Jo (Stycie Waweru), a witty, imaginative little girl who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has two months left to live.
Her mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) decides to take her out of the hospital to live her remaining days at home.
Jo fiercely loves movies, and dreams of being a superhero. Her teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia) sees this as an opportunity to give Jo some much-needed joy in such difficult circumstances.
Without the knowledge of their protective mother, Mwix enlists the help of the community to convince Jo that she really does have superpowers.
At one point, she takes Jo to join a local soccer game. All the children are in on the plan, and act as if they’re being flung aside by Jo’s superpowers whenever she has the ball. Jo scores a triumphant goal while the opposition lies scattered on the field behind her.
It is interesting that Kahiu was in the same selection category as Wainaina, considering that Kahiu has been a strong advocate for African film that shows stories of love and joy, rather than the depictions of poverty and hopelessness that we usually see.
Kahiu even created a media collective called Afrobubblegum, which creates and supports fun, light and joyful African stories.
Supa Modo isn’t Kahiu’s, but one could say that it’s Afrobubblegum in nature – it’s bright and full of humour, love and wit.
It shows a closely-knit community banding together in a way that seems distinctive to our continent, in support of a girl who has crept into their hearts.
The film is buoyed by the effervescence of young actress Waweru and a story that will leave your heart glowing long after you’ve watched it. Warning: you might also shed a few tears by the end.
As South Africans, we are more or less blind to the African films coming out all around us. Supa Modo is one you need to see.