July 16, 2020
Two uplifting films, the drama Supa Modo and the documentary Don’t Be Nice, are available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and Juno Films.
From first-time feature filmmaker Likarion Wainaina comes the Kenyan drama Supa Modo, about Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl who is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life after being diagnosed with cancer. Her only comfort during dull times are her dreams of being a superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill. With the entire village’s support, they decide to make dreams a reality and turn Jo into the superhero they know she is. Newcomer Stycie Waweru delivers a captivating and earnest performance, imbuing her character with a subtle strength that ignites the screen. The 2018 film was Kenya’s Oscar submission.
In the documentary Don’t Be Nice, the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who pushes them past their personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place, the poets break down, break through, and compose their best work ever. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Lauren Whitehead coaches the Bowery Slam Team with the credo “Don’t Be Nice.” She explains that to “be nice” is to stay on the surface of things, is to perpetuate the status quo, and is, for black people, to be what white culture demands. Her team of poets brave their inner demons and buck societal expectations to write truthful poems, and to ultimately celebrate black joy.