BETWEEN THE RAINS
THENGOIFF 2023 Out of Competition
Andrew H. Brown & Moses Thuranira
Filmed over the course of four consecutive years during record low annual precipitation in northern Kenya, Between the Rains is a feature collaboration with the Turkana-Ngaremara community that offers a traditional voice to the global conversation about climate change through the lens of cultural extinction. Between the Rains is a coming-of-age story of Kolei, a shepherd boy whose name translates to “living amongst the goats.” Unfolding over the course of a prolonged drought, viewers are pressed deeper into Kolei’s inner conflict as he questions not only his own identity as a warrior –– a path that was chosen for him –– but also the erosion of the culture that has shaped every aspect of his life. For Kolei, becoming a warrior not only shapes masculinity and personal identity, it is the very foundation on which this community and society root their lives. It is a sacred, guiding pillar.
In hopes of stepping out of his older brother Patrick’s shadow, Kolei anxiously awaits his turn to start the Turkana’s traditional warrior process. However, after he fails the key test –– where two of his lower middle teeth are cut out of him with a spoon without medication –– Kolei is dubbed a coward and loses the respect of the older warriors he idolizes. The disappointment leaves Kolei withdrawn from the community and prohibits him from pursuing the life he really wants.
Isolated and alone, Kolei tries to escape the pressures within the village. Adding to his failure, despite the elders’ sacrifices in hopes of appeasing Spirit of Nature the Turkana god of nature, the rains still haven’t returned and a series of threats from a rival community on the other side of the river results in the Turkana warriors planning a retaliation attack. Dubbed a failure and sidelined, Kolei turns his attention toward a more immediate threat to his family. With a reduced amount of natural prey available in the wild due to the drought, wild predators begin feasting on the only thing keeping their community alive – the livestock. Kolei hopes that if he’s able to defend his family’s livestock from these wild beasts, he could find redemption and status within the community.
Through Kolei’s journey, viewers see how climate change affects every aspect of the pastoral Turkana’s life: touching on land loss, water access, and human-wildlife conflict.
Between the Rains is an intimate, visual endeavor that seeks to understand the experiences of a childhood caught within a traditional culture that is a casualty of climate change. We focus the story on strong characters as they learn from their choices in real-time. Much of Kolei’s character arc will be driven forward as he faces his fears – both literally and metaphorically – allowing viewers to empathize and connect from a deeper, internal place.