When we are confronted with harsh realities of life, we either look for ways to deal with it or escape into fantasy land to comfort ourselves. This latter is the premise of Supa Modo, a film produced by One Fine Day Film and Ginger Ink Film Africa in association with DW Akademie.
Supa Modo follows the life of nine-year-old, Jo (Stycie Waweru) living with a terminal illness. She leaves the hospital to spend the last days of her life with her family in Maweni. What follows is a tale of how a whole village comes together to make her dreams come true.
Just like many nine-year-olds, Jo loves superheroes, and when we meet her for the first time she (and her ward mates) are watching a Kung Fu film, narrated by one Mike (Johnson Fish Chege), a local VJ. In her fantasy world, Jo is a superhero, inspired by her action figure, Supa Modo.
It is from this premise that her teenage sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia) gets inspiration to make Jo’s last days memorable. She starts creating scenarios in which Jo has to use superpowers to do things as simple as opening a jar of jam oras complicated as fighting goons robbing a shop. Slowly, the whole village gets involved in the plan all this without Jo’s and their mother’s (Katheryn (Marrianne Nungo)) knowledge.
However, the fantasy world the villagers created for Jo comes to an end after a mishap that nearly cost her her life. After revealing she knew all along everything was a game and that she did not have powers, she said her biggest dream was to make a superhero film. Katheryn and Mwix enlist the help of the village to create this film, aptly called Supa Modo.
What stood out for me in the film was the authenticity of the film: from the storyline (written and directed by Likarion Wainaina) to the setting, Supa Modo clicked with my Kenyan experience. From Mike’s narration of the videos to the prayer session in Karthryn’s house, I was reminded of many households in Kenya that have gone through this.
The cast was really superb in the film. The innocence of Jo meshed so well with the rebellious Mwix, bringing together the strength of sisterhood, and both actors brought out these aspects effortlessly and flawlessly.
Same can be said of Nungo, who embodied Kathryn to the core. Kathryn is a widowed midwife who is forced to review her life as she comes to terms with her daughter’s life and eventual death. Her courage and protective nature as a mother ooze from the beginning to the end, making her as relatable as can be.
All said and done, Supa Modo is as much the story of Jo as it is that of Mwix and Kathryn and the village of Maweni. It is a reminder that superheroes never die.
It is a film suitable for the whole family. You will cry, you will laugh, but you will leave the cinema with a full heart.