By Daphne SCHMON, Hazuki AIKAWA


Social issues - Completed 2019

Filmed over the course of 7 years, SHIFTING GROUND is an epic feature documentary following three women living in Kibera, Kenya, Africa’s largest slum. Each story – a resilient young school girl, a teenage mom and an outspoken HIV+ elder — is told through the lens of a different female director.

    • Year of production
    • 2019
    • Genres
    • Social issues, Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0 - 0.3 M$
    • Director(s)
    • Daphne SCHMON, Hazuki AIKAWA
    • Synopsis
    • The first half of this film has already been made, we are returning to Kibera in January 2019 to film the second half.

      SHIFTING GROUND takes a cross-generational look at what it means to be a woman in Kibera, Kenya, Africa’s largest slum. Overpopulation has left Kibera riddled with poverty, disease and violence, and this is felt most sharply by the women of the slum. The statistics speak for themselves: The majority of Kiberan women are sexually assaulted by the time they are 12 years old and more than half are trading food for sex by the age of 16. As a result, young women in Kibera contract HIV at a rate 5 times higher than that of their male counterparts. Only 8% of girls ever get the chance to go to school. But what did these statistics mean on a human level for these women?

      We decided to explore this questions through the stories of three women — spanning three generations — each told by a different director. By bringing their very different stories together in one film, we give viewers a glimpse of the diversity of life in the slum, and the past, present and future of Kibera.

      MAKESH, Age 9-16
      In 2013, Makesh was a 9 years old student at the Kibera School For Girls, a tuition-free institution set up by the charity Shining Hope For Communities. It's the only school in the slum dedicated to educating women. Makesh escaped an abusive situation at home with an alcoholic mother, living in the safe house of her school. After her mother fled the slum, we travelled with Makesh to the remote Kenyan countryside to visit a family she hasn’t seen in years. Dark truths of her past were revealed. In January of 2019, Makesh will graduate and attend boarding school, most likely in America. Will the pressure overwhelm her? How will she adjust to her new life? Will she attain her dream of becoming a nurse?

      DOREEN, Age 19-26
      In 2013, Doreen was a hard working 19 year old mother. Despite the baby’s father deserting them, she had persevered to finish her high school education. However, in 2013 Doreen found herself jobless, living with her mother in a tiny one-room shack in Kibera. She dreams of becoming a catering manager, but the realities of raising a child took priority. In 2018, her boy is now 8 years old. Can Doreen manage his school tuition fees? Will Doreen finally pursue her own aspirations?

      JENNIFER, Age 51-58
      Jennifer is an outspoken HIV+ woman, who, in 2013, was raising her own children along with those of her late husband’s three deceased wives. All three had lost their life to AIDS. With a life expectancy in Kibera of just 30 years old, Jennifer is an anomaly and a vocal member of the community, encouraging women to speak about their HIV+ status. In 2018, Jennifer is approaching 60. What will be the fate of her children? Will she find access to the medicine ? How will the healthcare and community response evolve in regards to HIV+ women? Will she live for much longer?