Chit-Chat with Kenyan-German Film Maker

Sarika Lakhani is a managing partner and producer with One Fine Day Films, a Berlin-based company that trains and produces movies for African film makers.

She has produced locally, and internationally, award- winning movies including Nairobi Half Life, Veve, Something Necessary, Soul Boy, and most recently, Kati Kati, which premiered this January in Nairobi during the Nairobi Film Festival.

Born to a German mother and a Kenyan-Indian father, Lakhani was raised in the south of Germany. She studied Film Production from 2002-2006 at the German Film & TV Academy (dffb) in Berlin, and completed a post-graduate programme entitled L’Atelier Masterclass, a collaboration of the Film Academy in Ludwigburg and La Femis in Paris.

She began her professional career as a production assistant and co-ordinator for Studio Babelsberg. She then had participated in national and international productions.

In co-operation with DW Akademie, One Fine Day Films has trained over 1,000 film makers from 21 African countries in all areas of the movie making process.


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What’s your off-duty passion?

It is a bit hard to distinguish for me when I am off or on duty. The best inspirations for work come to me when I am actually not in a work environment, but I enjoy talking to people or looking at other peoples’ art. I consider my biggest “duty” to be interested and connect the dots, bringing people together and creating collaborations.

Sarika with Tosh Gitonga and Ginger Wilson at the “Rust and Bone” Premier in Hollywood in 2012.

That’s my passion — whether for work or for family and friends. There is no monetary reward in it, it just makes me happy to see it all come together.

If you hadn’t turned into who you are now, what would you have been?

Like so many other children of Indian businessmen, I would have joined the family business.

What signifies your personal style?

Natural, clean and at times colourful. Not complicated, just straight forward.

How do you manage your wardrobe?

Not at all. It’s only since I met my husband that I acknowledge I should.

When in East Africa, where are you most likely to be whiling away your time on a Saturday afternoon?

Around family and friends. It is beautiful to see our children growing up around the people who mean so much to us.

Describe your best destination yet in East Africa?

Galana Crocodile Camp, a green oasis on the eastern edge of Tsavo East National Park, next to the Galana river. It is a place where the eye can wander around, the ear hears birds singing and water flowing and the mind takes a break.

Sarika joined by Tom Tykwer,Simon Mukal and Emo Rugene  at the ‘Veve’ Premiere at Babylon Theatre in Berlin (Photo by Christian Marquardt)

Anywhere on your must-visit list?

Myanmar, Mongolia, Peru, Kashmir, Hong Kong, Seoul, Aleutians, Japan, travel with the Trans-Siberian railway, Nepal, Norway, Fiji …

What do you see as East Africa’s greatest strength?

The kind, talented, soulful, smart, joyful, generous people.

What’s your best collection?

Memories. I collect memories and sometimes also difficult ones — those that one goes back to and remembers with pain or embarrassment. But they are all part of who we are, the combination of all the pieces of the puzzle is the total of us.

What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve received?

Luckily, I am surrounded by very, thoughtful people. So there is no gift I could name “not thoughtful.” The most recent one is a mosquito racket my husband got me: although he does not understand why I get so agitated by those little things, he was pleased to see how happy I am with it.

What’s the best gift you’ve given?

I love giving gifts. Just the thought of it excites me. So I guess the answer must be: The next gift!

Your last great read?

Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng.

Which movie had an impact on you?

I cannot really choose between Gandhi, Doctor Zhivago and The Magnificent Seven. These were our father’s favourite films. My siblings and I were allowed to stay up late at night to join our parents watching these films, before we recorded them on VHS and watched them over and over again. Both watching them and observing my father’s passion for these films taught me how art can touch a soul in a genuine way. Art creates memories, resonance and emotions, that can be found nowhere else.

What’s your favourite music?

I have a collection I constantly feed with new songs I overhear at the most random places.

Your favourite website?

It has to be whatshouldieatforbreakfasttoday.com by my friend Marta Greber.

She is an amazing photographer and a brilliant observer. Plus sometimes I get to taste the food she makes for her blog!

What’s the constant in your fridge?

Chocolate.

**First shared on The East African

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