As a photographer, Boniface “Softie” Mwangi made his identify recording the carnage of Kenya’s postelection violence in 2007 (together with work printed on this paper). Embracing activism, he agitated for reform of the nation’s corrupt politics with its dynasties, vote-buying and postcolonial tribalism. In Sam Soko’s typically bewildering documentary “Softie,” Mwangi presents as an unassumingly stirring determine: an ardent advocate for democratic processes, however a seasoned realist about nefarious forces in his dwelling nation.
The film cruises by means of a few decade of private and nationwide historical past. Mwangi leads protests — from marches attacked by riot police to a stunt that unleashes pigs exterior parliament — after which runs for legislative workplace himself. In some ways it’s a regular marketing campaign documentary, beneath risky circumstances; check-ins with Mwangi’s spouse, Njeri, and their kids punctuate his marketing campaign’s voter outreach and wrestle to defeat their rival candidate, a pop singer.
After Mwangi and his household obtain loss of life threats, Njeri spirits the youngsters away to stay in Jersey City. Soko crams in eye-popping footage of brutality and unrest, with bursts of historical past and information evaluation. But regardless of ample consideration to Mwangi’s wrestle to steadiness household and politics, the movie neglects to flesh out his insurance policies.
Soko will get credit score for not softening Mwangi’s touchdown, and the end result of the election is dropped as almost an afterthought to his valiant efforts. But the on-the-ground campaigning and complicated historical past might use a greater form than the movie’s suits and begins.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch through BAM’s virtual cinema.