Kenyan writer-director Mbithi Masya's poetic feature film, Kati Kati ('In Between), opens with a shot of Kaieche (played by Nyokabi Gethaiga), as a young amnesiac dressedin a hospital gown, waking up in the middle of the Kenyan wilderness. She has no idea how she got there.
Kaleche makes her way to Kati Kati, a nearby wilderness lodge, where she discovers an activity timetable and, more important, a list of residents. One catches her eye --it reads: "Kaleche Miano (1984-2012)." She hears a commotion outside, follows the voices, and interrupts a game of "celebrity in progress.
A man standing in front of the group of people--some of them dressed strangely, like the man still in his graduation robe addresses Kaleche: "Welcome. My name is Thoma. This is Kati Kati. And you are here because you are dead."
Aghast, Kaleche runs out into the field--and smack-bang into an invisible barrier that knocks her back. The truth settles in, she's no longer in the land of the living.
The mysterious residents tell her they are all dead and in limbo. Thoma (Elsaphan Njora) is the leader. As Kaleche strikes up a quick and intense friendship with him, she discovers that there's a lot more to Thoma and the mysterious Kati Kati lodge.
Thoma is passionate about helping the dead remember and reconcile with their fragmented pasts. Thoma and Kaleche's friendship unearths a sinister secret of his, forcing him to confront his own denial and pain.
One male resident is optimistic about the future, saying: "We have to keep our hope alive." But he is quickly reminded by another man: "If you had any hope, would you still be here? Wouldn't you have left by now?" Another man assures Kaleche thus: "We will all leave this place. No one stays here forever."
As Kaleche's memories of her life slowly come into focus, she learns what each of these purgatorial residents must accomplish in order to move on to the next plane of existence.
The film, produced by Tom Tykwer, is a humane, quietly engrossing, and surprisingly funny film about the afterlife and the metaphorical scars we carry throughout our existence. It is also a commentary on predatory relations, injustice and violence in contemporary Kenya.
Kati Kati is now streaming in East Africa on Showmax, an internet pay television service. Showmax was born in 2015 and is part of the Naspers group. Showmax is currently available in more than 70 countries.
The 75-minute feature film, in Swahili and English, premiered at the 2016 Toronto...