Supa Modo: Film Inspires Performance Poetry

19 Jul 2022 BY Charlotte Micklewright in Film Features

5 mins

The heart-warming Kenyan film Supa Modo, licenced by Into Film for educational purposes in the UK, was shown as part of the Southbank Centre's In the Black Fantastic Weekender last Friday 15 July. The screening was followed by live poetry readings responding to and amplifying the film's themes, demonstrating how film can be used to explore other art forms and generate discussion.

Likarion Wainaina's debut feature film Supa Modo is a touching tale about the power of escapism, community support and how we respond to terminal illness. Jo is a nine-year-old girl from Kenya who loves superheroes and martial arts fighters. She has been staying at a children's hospital, but when her prognosis takes a turn for the worse, her mother decides with an aching heart to bring her home and try and protect her from the truth. Then Jo's older sister Mwix comes up with a way to make the best out of the difficult situation, gathering the entire village to create scenarios in which Jo can be the superhero that saves the day.

Following the World Premiere of Supa Modo at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival, Into Film acquired the educational rights for the film within the UK. In addition to hosting Supa Modo on the Into Film+ platform, an exclusive film streaming service for UK schools, Into Film is proud to collaborate with venues and organisations around the country to create exhibition opportunities for this title, with the aim of promoting its educational value. This unique distribution model allows for films such as Supa Modo to continue reaching new audiences beyond a successful festival run, expand the potential of an initial release, and make the most of contextual links.

Supa Modo was screened in London last week as part of the Southbank Centre's In the Black Fantastic Weekender, a multi-disciplinary event celebrating the breadth of contemporary Black art and culture. The poet Inua Ellams presented the film in the format of a Poetry + Film / Hack, inviting other poets to write and perform pieces in response to seeing the film. Audiences were treated to the thoughtful and stirring words of Elmi Ali, Abena Essah, Nick Makoha, Tatenda Matsvai and Malaika Kegode, who each picked a moment from the film as inspiration for deeper reflection and creative play through the art of spoken word performance. In such a frame, Jo's story transcended the screen and turned into a very special collective experience for the audience, beautifully reflecting the film's celebration of collective creativity.

Educators wishing to engage students with Supa Modo may also encourage them to write their own poetic responses to the film, as a creatively engaging review writing exercise. To accompany the use of Supa Modo in learning contexts, Into Film has also developed several guides including Supa Modo: Search for the Superhero Inside Yourself, a teaching resource that focuses on the themes of filmmaking, identity and storytelling. It supports a range of curriculum areas including Film Studies, Media Studies, English and PSHE Education. Supa Modo is suitable for viewers aged 7+ and is available to watch on Into Film+ with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and an introduction by director Liakiron Wainaina, who offers yet more ideas for creative activities to complement the film.

Charlotte Micklewright news author image

Charlotte Micklewright, Curation Officer

Charlotte has an MSc in Film, Exhibition and Curation from the University of Edinburgh. She has previously worked for various film festivals across Europe and for the educational online platform Mygrants.

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