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Coming to a Close

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Philip Himberg

The Sunset Dhow Sail to the Mangroves of Manda Island have become a much-anticipated event. The Dhow of Diamond Beach Village, which this year came in first place in the official Lamu Dhow Race, was re-launched into the water this week, re-painted, and re-fitted by its co-captains, Abu and Answar.

Once again, we Sundancers were invited on board as a late afternoon sun cast its orange yellow glow on us. Is this real? Gliding across the waves of the Indian Ocean? How far away are we from the ‘real world’? Well, not that far, it turns out. Someone’s cell phone rings and it’s an agent from the William Morris office in New York with a “can’t wait for an answer question.” Ah! Globalization!

But the interruption is short-lived, and we are off, skimming the calm waters, laughing with our crew, drinking rum and Coke Lite (just like any pirate), and I’m crooning: “Yo-ho, Yo-ho…”

Rehearsals are intense. We are winding up. We are getting ready to present our work to the group at large on Friday so there is only a day of work sessions left to go. In my room (well, not really a room – more like a Lanai), we are putting together the pieces of Desperate to Fight, by my wonderful Ethiopian playwright Meaza Worku.

We’ve gone line-by-line and beat-by-beat through her short play, discussed cultural differences, and tried to craft the storytelling so that it reflects the writer’s best intentions. It’s hard work, and the actors (Kenyan, Ugandan, and Ethiopian) have all contributed immeasurably. We’re quite excited to share the fruits of our labors with our colleagues.

In other rooms, there is Tanzanian music and Kiswahili text, and a pop-music score about the slums of Nairobi, and a Ugandan woman’s tale. All of this will be shared in 48 hours. And then, we’ll move onto feedback sessions and wrap-up.

It’s hard to imagine that in a week, I’ll be walking down the sidewalks of Manhattan, and that this corner of the world – a few miles of the easternmost border of Kenya – will be a memory. But not really.

Being Sundance, we will stay in close contact with our Lab Fellows, and if I know anything about us, we will find a way to meet again – on one continent or another – and continue the complicated, rich relationships we began on Manda.

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Native Film Maker Lab

Why We Celebrate Indigenous Voices

At Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program, our core values in how we support our artists have been rooted in that foundation and spirit of change.

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