Sunday, July 17, 2011

East Africa Day 65 (Sun July 17): Breakfast with Karen & a Human Rights Film Festival

Earlier this year, when I was preparing to come to East Africa, a friend from the San Francisco Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation introduced me to his co-worker, Karen. Karen works in Population Council's Nairobi office, and has been living in Nairobi for the past ten years. She and I spoke before I arrived in Nairobi, and she gave me some great advice. We stayed in touch, and I got to meet her in person this AM for breakfast!

She picked me up in her car, and we went to the other Westlands neighborhood mall (the Westgate) for breakfast at the Arts Cafe. She thinks that the Westgate is Nairobi's newest mall, and from what I've seen is definitely the nicest! We both had museli with fresh fruit (mine without the yoghurt) and I had another strawberry smoothie:) Karen noticed the lack of dairy in my breakfast, and when she heard that I've been having a hard time finding vegan food, she suggested that we visit the Westlake Nakumatt. We perused the aisles and found hummus, tofu, oat milk, and vegan soy strips and veggie burgers - both from South Africa. I bought the vegan soy strips and veggie burgers - yum!!!

We took this photo for adam, inside my compound when Karen dropped me off after breakfast and food shopping:)

After Karen dropped me off, I took a ten minute walk from my compound over to the Goethe Institute for the FilmAid & Film Forward's Film Festival, produced in partnership with the Sundance Institute.

Taken from the Festival Program:

"Film Forward is an international cultural exchange program designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences through the exhibition of film and conversation with filmmakers ... Film Forward travels to fourteen locations around the world screening a collection of ten independent US and international films. Filmmakers travel with their films to present their work, engage in question and answer sessions, master classes, and workshops."

"For ten years, as the film industry's leading international humanitarian organization, FilmAid has worked in partnership with the UNHCR and other NGO's to use the power of film to educate, entertain, and bring hope to refugees and other communities in need around the globe. Using large outdoor screens in open-air spaces, FilmAid presents feature films with universal appeal that provide psychologial relief to communities ravaged by war and displacement."

When I got to the venue, there were about 15 other people in the audience, but by the time I left two films later, there were maybe 50 people there. We watched two American films - one about desegregation, set in the Deep South, and the other about acceptance, set in San Francisco. (Yes, San Francisco. I had to come to Kenya to see a film that had received wide acclaim in San Francisco.)

Freedom ride reminded me of my friend Casey Chandler-Alexander, who went on the Equality Ride a few years ago. I'm still so proud of her! La Mission reminded me of Maria and Michelle Batres, who ran into one of the actors in the Mission District - while I was watching the film today, I was wishing that I could remember which actor they'd gotten to talk with:)

Seeing these films today reminded me of how much I love documentaries, and how much I have learned from them. It was so exciting to watch these films in Nairobi, a city with a different activist culture as compared with San Francisco. I hope that the films are inspiring other people as much as they are inspiring me. My experience this afternoon made me wish that the Daraja students could've been there with me, watching the films. Next up - the film festival travels to Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps. Wish I could go with them, but that's for another time.

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