Pumzi is a Kenyan science-fiction short film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program.The project was funded with grants from the Changamoto arts fund, as well as from the Goethe Institut and Focus Features’ Africa First short film program which are also to distribute the work. Kahiu hopes to expand the short into a full-length feature.The film is in English,but the title is Swahili for “Breath”.
Trailer For PUMZI a Short film Produced By Inspired Minority and Writer/Director: Wanuri Kahui and Producers: Simon Hansen, Hannah Slezacek and Amira Quinlan. VFX by Atomic VFX. Vfx Supervisor Simon Hansen. Executive Producer Steven Markowitz. Produced with the support of Focus Features Africa First, Goethe Institute and Changamato Fund
Pumzi begins with a tele-type caption that places the film spatially in the Maitu community of the East African Territory and temporally thirty-five years after World War III—The Water War. In Kikuyu, the word “Maitu” stems from the roots ‘truth’ and “our,” and in everyday usage, ‘our truth’ signifies ‘mother.’ A placard marks a seedpod of the Mother Tree, contained in a glass jar. The Maitu community contains open spaces, windows with cast cityscapes, and hallways that are well maintained and lit. Although only a small portion of the Maitu community is ever shown, as Asha walks through the hallway, she stops to admire the scenery. Portions of the community are visible through the window, which gives the sense that the community is large, though not how large or how extensive it is. Because of the harsh conditions, the lack of resources, and concerns about radiation, all citizens are confined within the walls of the community.
The Maitu community is powered by manual energy production machines—treadmills and rowing machines—which produce no pollution. Each citizen is allotted a small amount of daily water, and they are meticulous in their conservation of water. For example, in the bathroom, urine and sweat are recycled and kept in a personal water bottle.
The curator of the Virtual Natural Museum, Asha, receives an anonymous package that contains a small soil sample. She tests the soil and finds no radiation and a high level of moisture. Although she tests the sample with technological instruments, she also uses her own senses. When she takes a deep breath and inhales the smell of the soil, she is plunged into a vision, into a deep pool of water. Based on both the mechanical, scientific tests, and her own, biological, visions, Asha believes that life may have returned to the environment outside the community.
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