“Watu Wote – All of Us” – Oscar hopes for German-Kenyan short film 

The German-Kenyan team shot the film together in Kenya

The German-Kenyan team shot the film together in Kenya, © Hamburg Media School

01.03.2018 - Article

In December 2015, Al-Shabaab militia fighters attacked a coach at the Somali border in Kenya. A German-Kenyan short film co-funded by the Federal Foreign Office gives a vivid account of the events in Mandera County. The film is now hotly tipped to win an Oscar. 

A true story

Kenya has been the target of terror attacks by the Al-Shabaab militia for almost a decade. The border region between Kenya and Somalia is particularly dangerous. Mistrust between Muslims and Christians has constantly increased in this area. When Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a coach in Mandera County in Kenya, close to the border with Somalia, in December 2015, Muslim passengers stood up to the attackers. They refused to identify the Christian passengers and to hand them over to the terrorists. These events are recounted in the short film “Watu Wote”. 

Supported by the German Embassy in Nairobi

German-Kenyan cooperation
German-Kenyan cooperation© Hamburg Media School

The act of solidarity between Muslims and Christians in the coach inspired director Katja Benrath and her team to produce their short film, “Watu Wote”, which has already won many festival prizes. The film premiered in Kenya on 23 January and was nominated on the same day for an Oscar in the Best Short Film (Live Action) category as one of five films to be invited to the award ceremony in Hollywood on 4 March. Along with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and other organisations, the Federal Foreign Office provided funding for the film through the German Embassy in Nairobi as part of its cultural work. Students from Hamburg Media School produced the film for their graduation project. A German-Kenyan team shot the film in Kenya.

The German Embassy provided support
The German Embassy provided support© Hamburg Media School

Inspiring solidarity

The story is told from the point of view of a young Christian woman, who is travelling home to northern Kenya on her own. As one of the few Christians on the coach, she feels uncomfortable among the large number of Muslim passengers. Through the protagonist, viewers first experience feelings of unease, followed by panic and outright terror. Islamist terrorists attack the bus and demand that the passengers split into two groups – Christians on one side and Muslims on the other. A heavily veiled women and two passengers who initially seem suspicious turn out to be the most courageous people on board. The topic of the film – solidarity between people across religious differences – sends a universal message and raises the story far beyond the Kenyan context. 


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