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Directed by Wanuri Kahiu
Produced by Simon Hansen
Amira Quinlan
Hannah Slezacek
Steven Markovitz
Written by Wanuri Kahiu
Starring Chantelle Burger
Kudzani Moswela
Music by Siddhartha Barnhoorn
Cinematography Grant Appleton
Edited by Dean Leslie
Inspired Minority Pictures
Distributed by Focus Features
Release date(s)
  • October 21, 2009 (2009-10-21) (Kenya Film Festival)
Running time 21'
Country South Africa
Language English
Budget $35,000

Pumzi is a Kenyan science-fiction short film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program.[1][2][3] The project was funded with grants from the Changamoto arts fund, as well as from the Goethe Institut and Focus Features' Africa First short film program which are also to distribute the work. Kahiu hopes to expand the short into a full-length feature.[2] The film is in English,[4] but the title is Swahili for "Breath".[5]


Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which water scarcity has extinguished life above ground, the short follows one scientist's quest to investigate the possibility of germinating seeds beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi culture.[3]

Nature is extinct. The outside is dead. Asha lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it and the seed immediately starts germinating. Asha appeals to the Council to grant her permission to investigate the possibility of life on the outside, but the Council denies her exit visa.


It was part of the anthology, Africa First: Volume 1[6]


  1. ^ "Screening schedule of Pumzi at Sundance 2010". Bside.com. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Seibel, Brendan (January 22, 2010). "Kenyan Sci-Fi Short Pumzi Hits Sundance With Dystopia". Wired News. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Newitz, Annalee. "Kenyan Short "Pumzi" Explores Life After The Water Wars". io9. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Pumzi". IMDb. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "A look into the future". BBC. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Africa First: Volume 1". IMDb. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 

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