Noka Films

films that challenge preconception and bias


Directed by Daphne Schmon, Andrey Alistratov, and Hazuki Aikawa

Shifting Ground is a feature documentary following a young girl, a teenage mom and an elderly woman living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. With each story told by a different director, this cross-generational film offers a raw, multifaceted and vivid female perspective of Africa’s largest slum.

About the film
Being one of the most overpopulated places on earth, Kibera is riddled with poverty, disease and violence against women.  It has become a toxic trap for its nearly 1 million occupants who seek a better life than what the countryside has to offer. 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.  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 do these statistics mean to them?

We decided to explore these questions through the stories of three women – each told by a different director.  Daphne follows 10 year-old Makesh, who escaped an abusive home and is now living in the safe house of her school.  Hazuki tells the story of Doreen, a teenage mom who found the strength to beat the odds when her boyfriend abandoned her.  Andrey introduces us to Jennifer, an HIV-positive middle-aged woman who raised both her own children and those of her husband’s three other wives following his death from AIDS.  By bringing these stories together in one film, we give viewers a glimpse of the past, present and future of the slum.

In the end, what surprised us most was not the horror or life that Kiberan women endure, but the courage, love and sacrifice they show in the face of it.  But is this amazing strength enough for any of these women to break the cycles of poverty that plague their community?

Project status: Principal photography has been completed; the project is now fundraising for postproduction

Official website
Watch the film teaser