About the film-maker
Bettina Ng’weno is from Nairobi. She studied Agricultural Science and Management at the University of California, Davis and later Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University. She lives in California where she is a university professor and Kenya where she conducts research and makes films. The Time is Now is her first film.
For more information: Email, Bettina Ng’weno (producer and director):
LAST DANCE IN KALOLENI is a drama about the struggle of ordinary people for an acceptable future in the face of political and personal uncertainty and upheaval. Set in 1959 Nairobi, Kenya, on the eve of independence from colonial rule, the story follows the life of Miriam, a young housewife living in African Railway housing estates, who loves to dance. Jolted out of her secure surroundings of the Railways by her husband, Aleke’s industrial accident, she finds herself thrown into the center of political and personal transformation. Miriam’s life, dreams of upward mobility and sense of self must be reconsidered as she struggles to find a way to survive. In the process she runs into an old flame, Tipa, who complicates her decisions. Her ability to dance proves essential to her survival and the final choices she makes.
We seek to produce a professional internationally distributed film made in Kenya, which tells a uniquely Kenyan, and particularly Nairobi, story of identity and struggle. Set in 1959, LAST DANCE IN KALOLENI is a nuanced, full and rich portrait of a time whose impacts can still be felt today in the urban landscape of Nairobi. We would like the audience to take away the sounds, feeling, smells, tastes, heat, tensions, love, hopes and dreams of Nairobi of 1959, of that moment of great possibility and perhaps great loss at the birth of a new country.
We want to tell this story because Nairobi of today is a rapidly changing city. As the old city is brought down to make room for the new city, the historic African presence of Nairobi is disappearing. Forgotten in the process is the space of dreams centered in the world of labor, music and politics that created middle class Kenya and that built the city to what it is today. We are passionate about this story for its ability to bring back those times and those dreams that imagined life and the city yet to come. We embark on this film project to celebrate Nairobi.