‘Taharuki’ Brings Suspense to the NY African Film Festival

Ekwa Msangi-Omari
Ekwa Msangi-Omari

Set in Kenya amidst 2007-2008 post-election violence, ‘Taharuki’ screened earlier this month at  Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater as part the 2011 New York African Film Festival, a festival which bills itself as a “celebration of African arts and culture.”
Taharuki’, a Kiswahili word that loosely means ‘suspense’, centers on members of an underground liberation movement, Waridi (Miriam Chemmoss) and Kevin (Gilbert Owuor), who work together to expose a child-trafficking cartel. When their plan is derailed, the two are faced with a life or death decision.
In 12 minutes, writer-director Ekwa Msangi-Omari (‘The Agency’, ‘Block-D’) accomplishes a film that lives up to its title. ‘Taharuki’ deals with an important subject matter and illustrates the need for Africans (irrespective of ethnic differences) to continue to work together to achieve common goals.
Miriam Chemoss is a seasoned musician who is a dedicated activist and, now, actress. She has had lead roles in several independent films and television pilots such as ‘Refuge‘ (2003), ‘Bedford Diaries‘ (2006), and ‘Ya Ma Afrika‘ (2007) to name a few. Her full acting repertoire includes Community and Regional Theater, Off-Broadway, Film, Television, Print, Radio, Voice-overs and Webcasts. Following the wide success of her single Rudi from her 2007 album, she is currently working on her second album, Lovebird to be released later this year.
Gilbert Owuor is an actor who lives in New York.  The film was made in New York. Owuor’s acting credits include ‘Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You’, with Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu and Deborah Ann Woll and ‘All My Children’ on television. Off-Broadway He has performed with the likes of the NYSF Public Theater, Signature Theater, NYSF Delacorte Shakespeare in the Park, American Repertory Theater, Commonwealth Shakespeare Co Boston, and the Phoenix Players in Nairobi.
The producer, Ekwa Msangi-Omari, picked a story that was buried in the post-election violence that rocked Kenya–child trafficking–and put it on the forefront.  Her passion to make sure that people address the issues that were the underlying cause of the violence, was part of the drive behind the passion that she infused into the movie; a passion that showed through. She has directed for some of the biggest TV shows in East Africa including ‘The Agency’ (MNET) a 13-part TV series which she created, show-ran, and directed; the hit show ‘Block-D‘ (KBC), and most recently co-created critically acclaimed Higher Learning (NTV) along with several short films. She’s written for TV and film, and produced several shorts. ‘Weakness’, a short film she recently produced, has screened worldwide, including New York, Durban and Brazil and was nominated for a 2010 Kalasha Award.
You can learn more about this film here.



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