What you need to know:
- I met Mwangi while he was racing in Rwanda. He had a really strong character and passion for the sport even before the crash.
- After the crash and amputation, I learnt that he was getting back to professional cycling.
- I personally longed to watch such a story on screen. I decided to make it happen.
- Got feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]
Samuel Wanjohi aka Sam Dablew, 23, has had his film Imara nominated in three different international film competitions: My RØDE Reel Short Film Competition, Focus on AbilityShort Film Festival and TIFFxInstagram Shorts Festival. He put together a compelling short documentary about overcoming adversity. He narrates his journey in film-making.
Tell us about your film
The short documentary film is called Imara, a Swahili word that means resilient. It tells the story of Samuel Mwangi. The young professional Kenyan cyclist from the Kenyan Riders team is faced with the challenge of restarting his career with one leg. His left leg got amputated resulting from a tragic crash he encountered while racing in Tour du Rwanda 2016. The film tries to show Samuel’s determination to keep his dream of becoming a world cycling champion alive, while seeking to also inspire a new generation of dream chasers among people living with disability.
What made you pursue the topic of the film?
I met Mwangi while he was racing in Rwanda. He had a really strong character and passion for the sport even before the crash. After the crash and amputation, I learnt that he was getting back to professional cycling. I personally longed to watch such a story on screen. I decided to make it happen. Focus On Ability Short Film Festival is designed to encourage film makers to focus on the ability of people with disability. I decided to share Mwangi’s story with them feeling it was unique and compelling. I am following through with the story as it develops to make it into a feature length documentary.
How long did it take you to film, edit and complete the film?
We were filming a documentary about the Kenyan Riders team which got us to Rwanda, so I had archival footage of Mwangi racing before the crash. We only went to get his interview and shots of him cycling in Eldoret, where he lives. It took a week to film and two to edit.
Tell us about the international nominations
The film has been nominated for three international awards. The latest, TIFFxInstagram Shorts Festival, will screen a one-minute version of the film on their Instagram handle (@tiff_net) for people to vote by watching and liking.
On catching the interest of these organisations, I’ll first acknowledge the favor of God. It’s also almost impossible to overlook a compelling strong character in a story. International festivals operate such that even if the script isn’t that strong, a great character will get people talking.
Have you won any of the competitions so far?
In My RØDE Reel Short Film Competition, it was a finalist in the Best Documentary category. In Focus on Ability Short Film Festival, we are finalists as well in the Best International Film category. We are still hopeful as they haven’t yet announced the winners.
How did you become a producer, editor, director and photographer?
After high school I watched a lot of TV and developed a desire to take any course that was video-related. I mistakenly enrolled at Kenya Institute of Mass Communication in 2012 for a film production course. I later realised it was exactly what I wanted and gave my all into it. Just before completing my diploma, two of my classmates and I started a production house called Shark Films. That has helped me overtime to build a career in the different fields, but I still consider myself a student of film.
Who is your role model?
Generally I’m inspired by Tyler Perry a lot, maybe because he plays so many roles in his films as I find myself doing. He also makes dramas that revolve around family, more or less what I love watching.
Do you have mentors? Are you a mentor yourself?
I get mentors depending on what I’m working on. I’m following Mwangi’s story as he targets to compete in the Olympics 2020. I have Judd Ehrlich, a New York-based documentary filmmaker, seeing me through the project. I’m also mentoring and supporting other young filmmakers and photographers by involving them in my projects and also advising them on theirs. It’s an important aspect in achieving success.
What's your advice for those pursuing their dreams?
My fauvorite phrase by Napoleon Hill, “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose; the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” The desire to achieve your dream must burn in you and what shows that it’s burning is the effort you put into your work.
Do you have feedback on this story? E-mail: [email protected]