Imagine a soap opera in which people die and don’t come back to life. That’s The Team, a Kenyan-produced serial about an ethnically diverse co-ed soccer team that works to break down the divisions and violence of tribalism to save its country. Its amateur cast comes from both wealthy and poor neighborhoods in Nairobi, as well as various warring tribes. When he set out to make a documentary about the soap, director Patrick Reed anticipated a “positive African story.” Perhaps one of the poor cast members would rise to fame, Reed thought. Fortunately, the documentary is instead a story about art reflecting life and vice versa. Otherwise-marginalized Kenyans become not just actors in a soap but a part of a movement. And just as their characters face violence, so does the cast in a heart-breaking turn of events that reflects the challenging reality of post-2007 Kenya. It takes some time for this film to grab your attention, and often it has the tone of an informational nonprofit video. That is until the camera follows a cast-member into a Nairobi ghetto, at which point the documentary turns into a more dramatic human story that doesn’t let you go.
Saturday, June 25 at 3 p.m. at AFI Silver 2.