Kenyan movie Lisilojulikana, otherwise known as The Unknown, has once again received international recognition, this time at the just-concluded Picture This… Film Festival in Calgary, Canada.
The film bagged the awards for Special mentions for a drama over 30 minutes and the esteemed Dodie Spittal Award, and both awards were received by Aggie Nyagari, the director, editor and co-writer of Lisilojulikana.
The Unknown tells the story of a young girl who suffers from cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage that occurs from complications in childbirth. After her father’s death, she was sent to live with her uncle and aunt in Nyahururu.
Regarded as ‘cursed’, the community dreads having her in their midst lest the curse spread to others. After initial insistence by some people that she not be allowed in, the young girl is soon found to be bright, and she goes on to win everyone’s heart through sheer courage and determination.
The main objective of Lisilojulikana is to dispel the belief that disability is a curse, as is still believed widely in the country, and indeed, in many parts of the world. This contributed to the film’s win of the Award for Public
Awareness during World Cerebral Palsy Day in October last year. Since its release in 2016, it has been screened over 250 times around the country using a solar-powered cinema kit, allowing it to penetrate the most remote regions in the country.
A volunteer, Salome Mwaniki, working with Purple Field Production, the UK-based charity organisation behind the film's creation, has managed to reach 27,000 people all over the country, thereby discovering numerous children kept hidden due to the shame and ignorance on how to handle the condition.
The organisation is currently trying to raise funds to allow the film to be screened in Tanzania,
Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria.