An Editor's Inspiring Resilience

Polly Kamukama of the 2013 Talent Press Durban interviews NAIROBI HALF LIFE's Kenyan editor Mkaiwawi Mwakaba, who is this year attending the Talent Campus Durban.

Mkaiwawi Mwakaba a.k.a Mkay, editor of NIROBI HALF LIFE and aspiring writer and director.

Even in developed film industries like Hollywood, female editors are still a rare species. But one Kenyan girl is determined to change the status quo.

Principally known for editing Kenya's archetype film, NAIROBI HALF LIFE, directed by David 'Tosh' Gitonga, Mkaiwawi Mwakaba a.k.a Mkay is creating a wave in East African cinema with her magic touch on the editing suit, even mentoring a number of aspiring female filmmakers in Kenya. Mkay has not only beaten men at their game but has gone on to establish herself as one of the fastest-rising and most sought-after film editors across the East African region, yet she says it’s only a start. "Editing is my heart and soul and I want to take it all the way up. I want to be the best at what I do," she says with rare passion befitting of a revolutionary politician. She says she wants to create change in the male-dominated technical side of filmmaking.

This young and dedicated editor who won’t mention her age first cut her editing teeth in 2005 by working as an intern with Mediae, an established video production company in Nairobi that mainly does documentaries and TV work. She had previously made a living working as a photographer, TV reporter, videographer and office assistant at several organizations. When she joined Mediae, it wasn’t long before her bosses started entrusting her with big projects. One such project was MAKUTANO JUNCTION, a popular TV drama series that airs across East Africa. "MAKUTANO was a great experience for me because it allowed me to sharpen my creativity and basic understanding of editing. I was working with a great team," she said of the gig she later quit to chase her childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker. "I started looking up to movies as the ultimate challenge for me. I felt I was ready to try out something new and different," Mkay says.

With her editing credentials already impeccable and the filmmaking bug beginning to bite, Mkay pulled the snug on Mediae to join the famed One Day Film workshop, a Nairobi-based periodical film boot camp that attracts talents from across the region. She then landed the NAIROBI HALF LIFE job after having been selected ahead of other trainees in the editing programme. Now, the film's international success has spurred her to bigger targets. She wants to branch out into script-writing and directing. "I am working on a short film which I hope will be ready by end of this year," she told us after a session at the ongoing 34th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) where she is attending the Talent Campus.

And she reckons DIFF has given her an opportunity to network and consult with established filmmakers from across the world. She also attended the Berlinale Talent Campus earlier this year. And with her talent, skill and humility, there's little doubt Mkay will soon join the ranks of Judy Kibinge as the next topnotch Kenyan female director.