‘Shoto’, a story about the matatu bus culture in Kenya, through the eyes of an Eastlands bus driver, told by up and coming filmmakers Firul Maithya and Arnold Mvoi, was last week honoured through nomination in the 2019 Best of New Film Makers Awards Los Angeles (BNFMLA).
The BNFMLA Awards this year honoured 110 films from across the globe in 16 Award categories, including new media, animation, documentary and narrative.
The film’s titular character, Shoto, is a matatu driver plying the Umoja – Nairobi CBD route, and the story was captured under one of 2 projects undertaken last year in a four-week film making training known as Stories Found, under the auspices of the United States Embassy in Kenya, specifically for identifying the next generation of inspiring Kenyan filmmakers. The young filmmakers went through a rigorous week-long training session led by professional film instructors Evie Maina, and Ishmael Azeli, alongside American filmmakers James Martin, and Bud Simpson.
“Tonight I want to take this opportunity to first thank God, thank the Stories Found Team, in conjunction with the US Embassy Nairobi, not forgetting the amazing students who took a 3-week online course and a 1-week crash course on how to make this a successful project, Ishmael Azeli took to Instagram last week. ” We have been privileged to get this nomination which in arguably one of the top new film makers award festivals in Los Angeles. This was an amazing experience in Hollywood.”
As outlined in the film bio, ‘Shoto’ is a story about the matatu bus culture in Nairobi, through the eyes of a local driver named Ken. The unique state of transportation within Kenya’s capital can only be experienced first-hand, behind the matatu steering wheel. Ken builds a unique community through his customers and colleagues as he works toward owning his own bus in the near future – Shoto provides a portrait of a man with big dreams in a challenging economic environment.
The film was directed and scripted by Firul Maithya and Vanessa Wairimu Njora, with a host of producers including Gloriah Amondi, James Martin, Vanessa Wairimu Njora, and Florence Nyokabi. ‘Shoto’ also premiered at the Oxford Film Festival in the United States.
Stories Found is a documentary film-making curriculum which is sponsored by the United States Embassy in Nairobi and looks to build filmmakers through courses available online, and a detailed workshop.