When a friend asked blogger Mundia Situmbeko why she never wore her hair in its natural state, Mundia realised she didn’t know how to respond. KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS follows Mundia’s exploration of the history and established norms of afro-textured hair. We follow Mundia as she goes in search of answers, firstly attending American 'natural hair guru' Felicia Leatherwood’s workshop. She later observes an informative discussion group by Afrocenchix and joins a heated debate at Manchester Metropolitan University's student union. These encounters open a dialogue on history's role (and that of the media) in today’s perception of beauty, identity and our concept of ‘work appropriate’.
As she explores the surrounding culture, Mundia uncovers the true extent of the time, effort and money women dedicate to their hair. After examining the realities of the ever-booming hair product and hair extension industries, Mundia comes to appreciate her natural beauty and waves goodbye to her weave.
KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS originally began in October 2011 as my university project. Having had no prior experience in filmmaking, I produced, filmed and edited the entire documentary by myself without any financial assistance whatsoever. As you can imagine, I was elated when the documentary ended up winning a university award for best documentary. And it didn’t stop there.
The first sign that was something special came when the initial screening for 30 people (London, 2nd June 2012) quickly sold out. At the Courthouse Doubletree hotel's cinema on Regent Street in London, 95 people attended, marking another sellout show. A panel discussion followed involving remarkable women such as the author of Because I Wasn’t Worth It Isabella Broekhuizen and Blackhair Magazine editor Keysha Davis (both of whom are interviewed in the film) and Sky News anchor Lukwesa Burak.
A special screening was held for the documentary’s first anniversary at the edgy Ritzy Cinema and the film went on to be screened at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge as part of their highly acclaimed ‘Origins of the Afro Comb’ exhibition.
The first subtitled version was screened in June 2013 in Paris at Boucles d’Ebene (Ebony Curls) one of the biggest Afro Caribbean events of the year. Over 7000 people attended this celebration of natural beauty, visiting stalls relating to media, business & networking, culture, gastronomy and fashion. Glamorous fashion event Ethno-Tendance specifically requested a screening of KICKIN' IT WITH THE KINKS for its second event as they thought it a good fit with their key concepts of ethics, ethnicity and solidarity. The film has now been screened for the first time with German subtitles this month as part of Hamburg's Black History Month.
There have now been 22 screenings in total across the UK, US, Canada, Africa (firstly in Namibia November 2013, followed by Nigeria and Zambia), Belgium, Switzerland (twice at the UPAF in Geneva) plus subtitled versions in France and Germany. With a steadily increasing global audience the film continues to raise awareness about the complexities of hair care among women of African descent.
A video-based blog was created to further explore the cultural issues raised in the documentary and in recognition of its positive contribution to raising awareness of Afro Caribbean culture, the blog won a BEFFTA Award in October 2013.
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