I heard nothing about this short film last year. I just discovered this trailer recently and was immediately captivated by its story and design. Written and directed by Wanuri Kahui, an emerging filmmaker from Kenya, Pumzi (the Kiswahili word for “Breath“) was selected for the 2010 Sundance Festival as part of its New African Cinema program.
Kahui’s dystopian vision of the future takes place 35 years after East Africa has been decimated during a world war over water. Forced to shelter in small communities underground, and held in the thralls of a repressive governing council, human beings struggle to exist. But one intrepid scientist—played by actress Kudzani Moswela—goes against the authoritarian regime and ventures up to the surface to plant a seed and search for other signs of life. In this post-apocalyptic world depicted with a nod to sci-fi films of the fifties, and to George Lucas’ 1971 film THX-1138, Kahui has not only achieved a “first” for Kenyan cinema, she has delivered a compelling tale about global climate change as cinematically rich and textured as the African tapestries and landscapes she uses as backdrops for the film. I truly hope she is able to realize her goal of making this project into a full-length feature film.