EXCLUSIVE: Kati Kati, the debut feature from Kenyan filmmaker Mbithi Masya, has been acquired for world sales by Germany’s Rushlake Media, a specialist in digital distribution with a focus on the African market. The film, which will have its world premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival, has an interesting backstory. It’s produced by Tom Tykwer’s One Fine Day Films which has been running a workshop initiative since 2008 to support African filmmakers telling African stories.
Kati Kati tells the story of Kaleche (Nyokabi Gethaiga), a young woman who wakes up in the middle of the wilderness with no idea how she got there. She soon makes her way to the nearby titular lodge where she encounters a motley crew of residents under the leadership of the charismatic Thoma. As Kaleche and he strike up a friendship, she discovers that far from being just another rural Kenyan outpost, Kati Kati is inhabited by the souls of dead people awaiting redemption.
Digitally-oriented distributor Rushlake Media was founded in 2014 by former Match Factory marketing director Philipp Hoffmann with a focus on the African market. Hoffmann says that Tykwer’s One Fine Day “is doing something we need to follow and support… This is about much more than giving something back; it’s really about working together with the talented young African filmmakers who are telling stories I’m confident the rest of the world will want to hear a lot more about.”
Kati Kati is the fifth film produced by One Fine Day and the first one that will be launched at a major festival. Previous titles have included Hawa Essuman’s Soul Boy and Tosh Gitonga’s Nairobi Half Life which was the first-ever Kenyan submission to the Oscars. The company’s workshop, in collaboration with Kenyan production company Ginger Ink and German media training house DW Akademie, functions as a mini film school whose goal is to expand the cinematic language and perspectives of African filmmakers and to get their works to reach audiences outside the continent.
Rushlake Media for its part is exploring new digital strategies for its African titles and will launch a special initiative for the One Fine Day Films catalog in the fall, making all of the titles available on major international VOD platforms, and launching a dedicated online streaming boutique.
Nairobi-born Kati Kati helmer Masya began his career as an advertising art director before focusing on music, video, art and civic activism. His 2012 exhibit Kudishnyao! showed at the Rush Gallery in New York City.