The WOMEN IN FILM INTERNATIONAL (WIFI) COMMITTEE WITH Universal StUDIOS PRESENT:
"OUT OF AFRICA: A nIGHT TO cELEBRATE sHORT FILMS bY kENYAN fILMMAKERS"
Performers and Artists Line Up
NGŨGĨ WA THIONG'O
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine, was born in Kenya in 1938 into a large peasant family. He was educated at Kamandura, Manguu and Kinyogori primary schools; Alliance High School, all in Kenya; Makerere University College (then a campus of London University), Kampala, Uganda; and the University of Leeds, Britain. He is a recipient of eight Honorary Doctorates: PhD (Hon) Albright; PhD (Hon) Roskilde; PhD (Hon) University of Leeds; PhD (Hon) Walter Sisulu University; PhD (Hon) Dillard; PhD (Hon) California State University, Dominquez Hills; PhD (Hon) University of Auckland; PhD (Hon) New York University; Fellow MLA; Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ngũgĩ, formerly Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Languages and Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies, New York University, is a novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic and social activist from Kenya.
EDI GATHEGI (CO-HOST)
Kenya-born, Edi Gathegi has steadily increased his profile and quality body of work over the past couple years with his roles on both the big and small screens. Initially well recognized for the recurring role as ‘Dr. Cole’ (AKA ‘Big Love’) on FOX’s hit television series “House”, Gathegi went on to join the ensemble cast of the theatrical box office phenomenon, Twilight, followed by reprising his role as ‘Laurent’ in 2009’s sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He recently wrapped production on the feature film literary adaptation, Atlas Shrugged as well as the role of ‘Darwin’ in the highly anticipated Matthew Vaughn helmed, X-Men: First Class releasing wide this summer.
Gathegi’s notable film credits include feature, Gone Baby Gone directed by Ben Affleck, Death Sentence opposite Kevin Bacon, Crank with Jason Stathem and My Bloody Valentine 3D. Other past television credits include “CSI”, “CSI: Miami”, “Veronica Mars”, “Lincoln Heights” and the critically acclaimed but short-lived US. re-imagined version of the BBC’s “Life On Mars” for ABC.
He is also no stranger to on-stage production as his theatre resume includes “Two Trains Running” at the prestigious Old Globe Theatre in San Diego with other regional stage work including “King Hedley II”, “Blues for an Alabama Sky”, “Golden Boy”, “As You Like It”, “Twelfth Night”, “The Crucible”, “Fade”, “A Maiden’s Prayer” (Santa Barbara Independent Award), “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Othello”, “A “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Cyrano”, and “Dutchman”.
Gathegi graduated from NYU’s famed MFA program for acting and currently resides in Los Angeles.
IDA ONYANGO (CO-HOST)
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Ida Onyango is an actress, dancer, and singer-songwriter. She moved to United States when she was 4 years old. Ida started singing at an early age, and was performing traditional Kenyan songs in front of large crowds by the time she was 6 years old.
In 2005, Ida visited Kenya for the first time since she moved to the United States. She got the opportunity to collaborate with top Kenyan producers who produced her first hits “Nairobi” and “Make it Hot” both of which were off of her sizzling sophomore album titled Nairobi.
Ida was a regular on “Days of Our Lives” for over two years playing the character Georgia Delgado. She also starred alongside Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci in Tears of the Sun where she played Lasana, a rape victim. Ida won the prestigious Kisima Award for her hit "Don't Stop" in Kenya for Boomba Female, and was nominated at the South African Channel Awards. Throughout her career she has been extremely dedicated in supporting and bringing awareness to Kenya.
She is currently in the studio working on new material that will be released later this year. Ida also just wrapped a promo shooting for her upcoming movie Once Upon A Time in the Congo which begins production in Kenya in Spring 2011.
OWISO ODERA (Q&A HOST)
Born to Kenyan parents in Khartoum, Sudan and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Owiso is proud to be part of Women In Film International’s 5th Annual Short Film Series. Owiso received his Bachelor’s degree at Earlham College in Richmond, IN and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of California San Diego. He is an actor currently based in Los Angeles.
TELEVISION: “FlashForward” ABC, “Three Rivers” (Recurring) CBS, “Dirt” (Recurring) FX, “Numb3rs” CBS, “The Unit” CBS
FILM: Acholiland, The Thirst, Relative Obscurity
OFF-BROADWAY: “The Overwhelming” (Roundabout Theatre Company), “Romeo & Juliet” (The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival)
REGIONAL THEATRE: “Samuel J & K” (Williamstown Theatre Festival), “Titus Andronicus”, “Romeo & Juliet”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Merry Wives of Windsor” (The Old Globe), “Gem of the Ocean” (A.C.T), “Love of Three Oranges” (La Jolla Playhouse), “Macbeth” (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company).
AWARDS: Princess Grace Foundation George C. Wolfe Theatre Award.
The work of Kenyan born, New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu offers a visceral response to her critiques of gender, culture and mass media imagery. Exploring the female body as a site of engagement and provocation, Mutu's work is frequently populated by hybrid figures that possess an almost abject beauty. The artist samples imagery from disparate sources – medical diagrams, fashion magazines, anthropology and botany texts, pornography, and traditional African arts. The artist's signature aesthetic utilizes tactile and fleshy surfaces to readily engage in her own unique form of myth making, bringing physical and conceptual depth while making social and personal commentary.
A native of Nairobi, Kenya, Wangechi Mutu was named Artist of the Year by the Deutche Guggenheim in 2010. She has had solo exhibitions at many major institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Miami Art Museum; and ArtPace, San Antonio; Deutche Guggenheim, Berlin; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Mutu's work is in public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
My name is Jesse Patrick Allen. I hope you will enjoy the time you share with me and my work.
For over 40 years I have been expressing the vivid colors, images and emotions in my heart through my art. It is my hope you will be able to share these same feelings with me through my work.
I was born 1936 in Nairobi Kenya (my family was living in Machakos at the time). During my childhood and adolescence I lived variously in Kenya, England, Ethiopia and Uganda - often in remote areas. I graduated in 1954 from the Prince of Wales School near Nairobi (now Nairobi High School). Then from 1955-1958 at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford I read French & Italian, and heard Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan for the first time and began drinking red wine.
I also taught English in Milan. It was in Milan that I really began painting in my present direction.
In 1964 instead of embarking on my doctorate and an academic career, I decided that if I did not attempt to express the vision within me, I would always regret it. I took the plunge, and became a painter. Please enjoy them!
Born and raised in a small village in the Embu district of Kenya, Wawi Amasha is an up and coming artist with a rapidly growing following.
Her body of work portrays a unique blend of Abstract Expressionism and traditional African art, culminating in something truly fresh and new. Vivid colors gush out at you, surreal snapshots of African life burst forth from the canvas; faces and figures stare into the distance, contemplating the nature of life. This is the defining term for her work. “Life".
With this in mind it is no wonder that Amasha depicts various facets of African life, using bold bright and vibrant colors that naturally radiate a positive energy. Amasha draws inspiration from her African background, often portraying African women mostly going about their daily activities. She calls her work ‘art to inspire’ and considers her work as filling a void for Africans in search of positivism.
Ms. Amasha lives and works in Santa Monica, CA, where she exhibits new works regularly. Her latest exhibition is at her studio in Santa Monica.
GITHINJI WA MBIRE
Kenyan born, Oakland and Nairobi based artist, Githinji wa Mbire comes with a diverse cultural heritage. His projects appear in multiple disciplines includeing drawing, videos, performance and installation work. His work is influenced by Afrika as a whole. He also teaches and consults for art related films, books and art festivals around the world. His latest major work is "Last Exit To Afrika", an international curatorial project from Afrika to Brazil.
Ngene Mwaura is a third generation artist from of a family of writers and storytellers. He comes from Kikuyu, a farmland fifteen miles outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Unlike his father, Mwaura Mureithi (author of The Adventures of Thiga), Ngene has found illustration to be his truest form of storytelling.
The succession of his work is a timeline of his perception and experiences as of yet. His work takes you from the farmlands of Africa, through the art world of Europe, and most recently to Los Angeles, where he's working on his latest work, "Masks", an expression of what he thinks the African Mask could have evolved into if the African tradition hadn't progressively dissipated.
He has studied under several artists including Ndasuunye Shikongeni, Fred Mutebi, Henry Mujunga, Rafael Zarza, and Joyce Wellman. His expertise is in silk-screening, etching, acetate printing, carton printing and woodblock printing. You can find Ngene's work in the collections of the Commercial Bank of Africa and the Dutch Embassy, in Kenya.
Based in Southern California of Kenyan heritage, singer-songwriter, Nasambu, is a traverser of musical worlds and an ambassador for peace and healing. She has performed and recorded locally and internationally with African, American, Caribbean-based reggae, jazz, world music, a cappella, and underground hip hop artists, while also sharing African dance with many children and adults. Through these experiences, Nasambu has witnessed how freedom music continually surpasses the constructs of language, race, and culture to commune directly with the hearts of audiences around the world. “Music is one of the most powerful aspects of the human experience, voices Nasambu, “It is medicine for the spirit.”
The newly released EP, Earth Song, captures the essence of Nasambu singing live while accompanied by an acoustic trio exploring world sounds ranging from Afro-latin rumba on ‘Sitakuacha’ to the simply soulful love ballad, ‘Eternity’. When Nasambu is not singing or working with children, she is studying holistic and traditional healing practices with various wisdom keepers of the earth.
Racheal Wangui holds a BA and MA in Social Sciences, CSU Dominguez Hills. Art in general, marbling and painting in particular, have always been of keen interest since her youthful days in Kenya. The first defining moments in her art life came when she was offered a position as an apprentice in a prominent Kenyan marbling cottage industry company. The sheer feeling of excitement and passion that came along with the ability to manipulate and balance contrasting colors has kept her on a steady artistic trajectory. Recent additions to her repertoire of skills include paper art, book binding, water color and oil paintings, drawings and ceramics. Key artistic involvement has been in the sunny Southern Californian city of Manhattan Beach where she offered marbling lessons and exhibited artwork in local cultural and art festivals. Racheal resides in Los Angeles and continues to pursue Studio Art studies in oil painting and drawing at her alma mater.