Watu Wote: All of us (2017)

Not Rated   |    |  Short, Drama

Watu Wote: All of us (2017) Poster

For a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.


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10 February 2018 | Quinoa1984
| a strong imperfect short made by a graduate school in Germany
All of Us is the kind of story that builds up to something once it gets into its big final stretch. Though it's only 20 minutes long (a bit long for a short film, but still in the range of what is one), it aims for the scope and harrowing drama of a feature film, and it's remarkable if nothing else that it was produced by a graduate film program from Hamburg, Germany, of all places, and that they were able to put together their resources for a story of humanity's strife in the face of religious persecution. It may also have some extra resonance too since there it takes place - right on the border of Kenya - is one of those areas where a certain someone I won't mention called a "S***hole" not too long ago (though by this writing it feels like ages considering the news cycle, but I digress). What do people on either side stand for? Well.... peace, for one thing?

I think what seems to be a flaw against the film, that the woman we think is the main character here, Adelyne Wairimu's Jua, is kind of put to the side narratively once it gets to its climax of these gun-wielding oh-so-"tough" Al-Shabaab terrorists pulling over a bus full of Christians and Muslims and asking one side to out the other, is actually what makes it compelling. We're following her, as a Christian woman, who really doesn't want to talk or even have a word of dialog with another Muslim person (this goes for the guy on the bus hawking his water and food and other things to buy), and at first her story seems pretty simplistic. But cut to this bus take-over, and the stakes shoot up a thousand percent.

This is based on a true story and I don't doubt it based on how the filmmakers present it; the weakest part is some of the dialog, which sounds more forced or like how we might picture someone writing it who wasn't there. That may be exactly what was spoken - I'm mostly referring to the climax of this - but I don't know if I fully buy it. Nevertheless, this is compelling work for what it's attempting to show us, and the message amid such a brutal environment is a good and pure one: we need to understand one another and actually *listen* to what our religious texts tell us, because otherwise we'll just kill each other till there's no one left. It may end slightly abruptly too, but it's worth waiting to get to the emotional punch of that climax.

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Swahili, Somali

Country of Origin

Germany, Kenya

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