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  • Writer's pictureNicole & Debra

Field Update: A Sneak Peek at our new project “Searching for Amani”

Searching for Amani is a character driven coming-of-age story set to the backdrop of a climate crisis. 

We’re the directors of “Searching for Amani” – an upcoming doc about a 13-year-old aspiring journalist named Simon who investigates his father’s mysterious murder within the boundaries of one of Kenya’s largest wildlife conservancies. As a ravaging drought encroaches, his quest to find the killer shifts and an activist is born as the collateral damage of a warming world is revealed.


Searching for Amani is a character driven coming-of-age story set to the backdrop of a climate crisis. 


We met Simon when he was 12 years old. We received a grant to give cameras and work with kids from frontline communities all over the world who were bearing the brunt of climate change. He was supposed to be one of our many subjects we were documenting. But once we met him, we knew we had to change our plans and focus on telling his story instead – because Simon's story is something else entirely.


It’s been a tough but cathartic journey for Simon. He's 17 now, his voice has deepened, and he towers over most of us. The last 4 years of his life, and his story, have been filmed - some of it is ours, and some of it is his. It was important to include Simon's unfiltered perspective in the film. We never want anyone watching to forget the boy at the center of it all. 


Simon's journey forced him to confront the realities of decisions made by people far removed from his world. That's why we still believe this is a film about climate change. It might not look like it at first because instead of painting the issue in broad strokes, the film focuses on the microcosm of Simon's life and his home in Laikipia highlighting the often ignored intersectional nature of the effects of climate change. 


It reflects the existing tensions between the Western world and the global south, between modernity and tradition, and between targeted activism and cultural reckoning. It's a complex nuanced story with shades of gray, not just good and bad, all told through the intimate lens of a young boy who comes of age in a changing world.

We’ve worked closely with our advisors, Kenyan filmmaking legend, Judy Kibinge of Docubox and world-renowned Kenyan conservationist, Paula Kahumbu, to hold feedback sessions for both Western and Kenyan audiences. 


We cannot underestimate how important this process has been. It has always been our goal to tell a powerful and emotional story that has appeal and importance for both a western and Kenyan audience. It was important to us that this film not only portrays the reality of what is happening on the ground in Kenya but that its message also resonates with individuals and groups in the Laikipia region who are working hard to improve things in the region. 


This is what led us to meet the folks at IMPACT who are running amazing initiatives in the region, doing everything from educating local indigenous communities on climate adaptability to running peace building initiatives in the region. 


They have a profound grasp of what is happening in the region and were gracious enough to offer valuable insights into what life is like for indigenous communities there and how that can be better reflected in the film. We are grateful to Mali Ole Kanunga and Laissa Malih for all the valuable insight they gave us and hope to continue to work with them in the future.


“Searching for Amani” is a cross-cultural labor of love that has brought together individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and the potential of film to bridge divides, process grief, and foster understanding.



The film will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June. You can find tickets and screening info here: https://tribecafilm.com/films/searching-for-amani-2024


Stay tuned for more information about how to see our film and how to take part in our impact campaign.


Sincerely,

 Nicole Gormley & Debra Aroko, 

Directors, Searching for Amani





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