By Vernon Nickerson
From writer/director Sam Soko comes a powerful documentary of an underdog/longshot Kenyan political candidate that is anything but soft. The hero of “Softie”, photojournalist-cum-candidate for prime minister Boniface Mwangi may be soft-spoken, but his actions are bold, loud, and in-your-face. In a nation-state that has known continuous internal conflict since the fifth Century through two world wars, Idi Amin and Donald J. Trump we are introduced to the land and people of Kenya. American audiences will find Boniface’s story engaging and dismaying in l the aftermath of the 1.6.21 US Capitol assault. Is it an unintended coincidence that the all-pink-skinned angry mob of the 1.6.21 debacle perfectly contrasts with an all-black-skinned angry mob in “Softie”? My hope is that this film gets the widest US distribution possible in order that America sees another example of how close we are to the dissolution of our Democratic Republic. But I digress.
What happens when the violence and terroristic threats that have plagued a nation and its people for centuries fights to compete for the average working parents who are political activists? How do freedom fighters who happen to be also be married with young children hold a family together as street protests modulating in and out of armed conflicts swirl continuously around them? Is civil civic discourse even possible when you must bribe the voters before they will pay attention to someone who wants them to consider peace and an economy that works for an entire country? Will the struggle shred or strengthen the Mwangi family? Sadly, most of the Kenyan’s appear satisfied to be waiting and doing the bare minimum and hoping for a self-fulfilling prophecy- an end to bribes and double-dealing at all levels of government in Kenya. My hope is that families will gather together as we approach the new chapters in our global walkabout in the midst of a pandemic to answer these and other questions that I believe will be raised as they watch and discuss this fine film. Having won awards at 6 film festivals, including World- Cinema- Documentary Best Editing award at Sundance 2020, “Softie” is well worth the time and attention of a global audience challenged to act locally in the days ahead.