Life as we know it is obsolete in PUMZI, a post-apocalypticÂ science-fi short written and directed by Kenya’sÂ Wanuri Kahiu. Set 35 years after a devastating the Water War in a nondescript underground city in East Africa, citizens are required to “do their share” by recycling their “liquid waste” and helping to generate power via kinetic energy siphoned from exercise machines. It’s here that we meet Asha, a worker in the city’sÂ Virtual Natural History Museum, when she comes into possession of Â a soil sample that hints of life outside the cities walls. Hopeful and ready to explore, her efforts are quickly shut down by the government council who adamantly states that “the outside is dead,” refusing her request for an exit visa. Her spirit unbroken, Asha escapes and sets out to find the source of her soil sample and it’s connection to her mysterious dreams.
Originally screened in 2009 at theÂ Kenya International Film Festival, Pumzi (Swahili for “breath”) has been making the rounds at several film festivals with the latest showing at last year’sÂ The New Wave in African Cinema Film Series in Vancouver, Canada. Writer/director Wanuri Kahiu plans to expand the short into a feature-length film-hopefully with the film’s momentum from online viewings and festival screenings, her plans can happen sooner rather than later. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen; I’m enraptured by Asha and her plight to find fertile land and the minimalistÂ way in which the story is told had me holding my breath towards the end. This was definitely worth the 20 minutes spent watching and I’d love to see a full length version.
What do you think of the film?