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Tracy Christian, USA
2012 | 58 minutes
Director Tracy Christian in person for Q&A!
On a trip to Kenya a dozen years ago, first time filmmaker Tracy Christian met renowned Kenyan actress Anne Wanjugu. In 1994, Wanjugu founded an orphanage called Shangilia (literally, “rejoice”) in Nairobi where abandoned children wander the streets with no relief from the grim realities of poverty and little hope for the future. There, she not only rescued street kids, but helped to transform their lives through the power of the theater she loved so dearly. An actress herself, director Christian has spent years following the children of Shangilia, witnessing their restored spirit. But when unexpected events put their resilience to the test, these kids rise to the occasion, drawing upon their strength and the family they’ve created. Their journey of the spirit culminates in a triumphant adventure from the makeshift stage in a small Nairobi church to the bright lights of Broadway when 25 of the current orphans made their theatrical debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, then on to Broadway and in concert with Hugh Masekela and Odetta in 2007. As stunning as that was, these kids are trained in theater not to become stars, but to help them grow as individuals.
“An exhilarating documentary that speaks to the nurturing power of art… [Wanjugu’s] intent isn’t star-making, it’s providing a chance at self-expression. Prepare to be wowed.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone