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Mugambi Nthiga,whilst attending his small brother's graduation in Kansas City, Missouri mid-December 2012 was coincidentally lucky enough to have a chance to represent Nairobi Half Life at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF). The film was shown at the festival under the “awards Buzz section“, which featured 42 films from around the world submitted by their various countries for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Mugambi was one of the cast of Nairobi Half Life where he played “Cedric“ the gay character/close friend to the main cast. He has also appeared in “Law abiding Citizen“ (minor role), Mnet changes among many others.

The organizers of the festival were kind enough to organize for his transportation to and from the festival and accommodated him for three nights (Jan 3rd to 6th 2013), during which he was able to attend a number of screenings out of their huge selection of fine international film and host viewers to a screening of Nairobi Half Life and a Q&A afterwards where Mugambi was the special guest.

“I must mention that the almost 2-week long festival was an extremely well organized, well attended event. The city of Palm Springs, California is inhabited by scores of wealthy retirees who live for film. Many of them used to or still work in the industry. The rest of the audience members who show up are visiting industry people from around the world, industry people and film lovers from around the US, esp. Los Angeles, and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.“ Mugambi retorts.


“PSIFF is now considered second in prestige and status to Sundance Film Festival within the independent film circuit. It is also considered the film festival with the most comprehensive selection of excellent international film in the United States. It has gained the attention of A-List American and international stars, which would bring me to my absolute highlight of my brief stay there.“ Mugambi adds.

Unlike the Golden Globes and Oscars, the PSIFF Gala has its award recipients selected from before, thus it’s a celebration of the year’s outstanding filmmakers without the competition and suspense. All the attending filmmakers are entitled to one invite. Now include the award recipients and their various entourages, the media people, producers, actors, other filmmakers and ticket-buying guests, and you have a convention center full of 2,000 guests. The ceremony is an enchanting three hours, full of such pomp and color and life, all exquisitely choreographed and presented.

“I got to see such stellar filmmakers and actors as Tom Hanks, Helen Mirren, Richard Gere, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Naomi Watts, Bradley Cooper, Alan Arkin, Ang Lee, Robert Zemeckis and Ben Affleck in their ceremonial element. It was positively surreal. And on principle alone, I doubt I’ll be able to attend another Kalasha Awards ceremony again. Not with its inexcusable hiccups and questionable processes. There is a lot that we are yet to learn“ Mugambi sadly adds.

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By Gerald Langiri

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