The Film4-backed short Jonah, directed by Kibwe Tavares, is a stunning, ambitious hybrid of live-action and animation that reveals the cost of human progress. It received its international premiere at Sundance back in January, and played at Sundance London in April, and now we’re delighted to present the short online in full.
Jonah tells the story of Zanzibarian beach boy Mbwana, hungry for the future, who creates a myth that transforms his small town into a tourist hot spot. When the reality turns out to be far from his dreams, he sets out to destroy the town – or himself.
Produced by Ivana MacKinnon (The Scouting Book For Boys) and written by the Bafta-winning Jack Thorne (The Scouting Book For Boys, This is England ‘88), Jonah is Kibwe’s second short after his award-winning Robots of Brixton, which received half a million hits online. Jonah is produced by Stray Bear Productions from the imagination of Factory Fifteen. It is backed by Film4, C4, BFI and Shine Pictures, in association with Jellyfish Pictures, and stars Daniel Kaluuya, Louis Mahoney and Malachi Kirby.
It is Kibwe’s second short film, and he is currently in development with Film4 for his first feature. Read Tavares’ blog about the making of Jonah.
It tells an alternative history of the 1960s Space Race; it’s July 16th 1969 the night of the moon landing. As America prepares to send Apollo 11 to the moon, a rag-tag group of exiles in the Zambian desert are trying to beat America to the same destination. There’s only one problem: their spacegirl, Matha, is five months pregnant. Afronauts follows characters that have not been able to find a home on earth and are therefore attracted to the promise of the space race.
Courtesy of Afronauts
Photograph by Cristina de Middel
Courtesy of Afronauts
This project is based on a true story. In 1964, immediately following Zambia’s independence, the dreams of space travel led science school teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso to found a National Space Academy of Science, Space Research, and Astronomical Research in an old farmhouse outside of Lusaka. Nkoloso was so serious about the mission, he applied for a £7,000,000 grant from U.N.E.S.C.O. which never came through.
Jonah is a short by Kibwe Tavares. It is set in Zanzibar and looks at the effects tourism can have on a country from an economic and environmental perspective. By utilising a narrative of friendship between Mbwana and his best friend Juma, these themes are explored. Mbwana and Juma are men with big dreams. Dreams that become a reality when they photograph “the world’s biggest jumping fish” leaping out of the sea.
Their tiny town soon blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn’t what he dreamed – when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive.