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KEVIN Film: Friendship Beyond Borders

Meet Joana & Kevin

BY Agnes Amondi

Oct 19, 2022, 07:24 AM

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What are the chances that you meet someone in a foreign country and strike a connection that leads to not only 20-plus years of friendship but also a film? Well, that’s what happened between Kevin Adweko and Joana Oliveira.

The film KEVIN tells the story of their 20 years of friendship; growing older and reflecting on how life was then and now. It is one of the films that will be screened at the International Images Film Festival for Women in Zimbabwe and has already been to other festivals.  

The story of Kevin (Ugandan) and Joana (Brazilian) started in 1999 in Germany on campus. Joana was a film student and Kevin studied business but the pair met in a German class.

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Upon completion of her film studies, Joana went back to Brazil and embarked on her filmmaking journey which took her back to Germany. Kevin stayed back and the two met again but then went their separate ways.  

Despite the distance, the two always kept in touch but Joana missed her dear friend so much that she began working on a project that will bring them together. This led to the making of the film.  

She says: “I wrote the story because I missed Kevin a lot. In 2013, I got married but she wasn’t in a position to travel to Brazil as she had just given birth to her first child. 

"In all that, I just thought that Kevin is a very interesting person. We’ve been friends for so long and it’s a friendship between two women from different backgrounds and it’s something people should cherish. 

“I thought of a film that will bring Kevin to Brazil to talk about our sorrows, careers, problems and love and it would be a film about the lives of women who are joined by friendship despite their differences.” 

What’s The Point Of The Film?

Joana & Kevin in the film KEVIN
KEVIN reminds us to celebrate friendships and particularly, female friendships. A lot has been said about the incapability of women to forge tight-knit relationships as they are often portrayed as enemies but this film dispels this myth.

“Women can be good friends. We hear a lot about how women are not friends but it's a message that patriarchy propagates so that women don't unite. The idea of the film is for people to feel like they are sitting down with Kevin and me (Joana) to talk and experience that warm feeling of having a good friend you can share your life with.

“Life is not easy especially when you are grown up and face sickness, death and lack of money among other things but life is much lighter when you can share your experiences with a good friend.”

Shooting in Uganda

A still image of the film KEVIN
Initially, the film was supposed to be filmed in Brazil but eventually, it was shot in Uganda because Kevin was unable to make the trip due to her responsibilities. This wasn’t going to deter Joana. She flipped the script to accommodate her friend and made the trip to Uganda.

“I changed the story because, by the time I raised funds for Kevin to come to Brazil, she had three kids and had moved back to Uganda. The crew and I travelled there twice. The first time was stressful because I wanted to enjoy my time with Kevin but we didn’t have money to make many trips so I had to film and try and squeeze some time to spend with her. When I went back for the second time, we filmed the parts that didn’t come out so well the first time but it was a much more relaxed experience.”

Before this, Kevin hadn’t been on a film set and thought her friend joked about making the film. The reality dawned on her when she brought the equipment and crew to Uganda.

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“The first time I watched it back was during the Frauen film festival in Koln. This film was done a couple of years back and some of the things we said should not be in the public domain. 

“There are a lot of takes that happened which I never thought would make it in the film but they are in there. Now looking back, I would have said some things differently or not said at all but it's all done. 

“I’ve had moments where I hoped the film wouldn’t show in Germany and then it did, and I hoped it wouldn’t show in Uganda but you cannot stop that kind of thing. At some point, it will catch up with me and I’ll take care of it then. 

"This experience constantly reminds me of what happens when someone looks inside of you and although the film is meant to be a light watch, it has so much depth.” 

On Their Connection

A still image of the film KEVIN
When speaking to Joana about Kevin and vice-versa, you cannot fail to notice the connection between the two. Both of their faces brighten up when talking about each other so I asked Kevin what brought them close.

“Laughter. Joanna loves to laugh and I think we were two young girls in Germany who desperately needed to laugh. This is something that’s been a constant in our friendship. The fact that she is a pure soul and straightforward, something which I also am, makes us tick. Also, her zeal, we've been through a lot and despite that, she keeps going and is always jovial and available. For the most part, we’ve lived apart from one another but when I write to her, she always gets back.”

During my conversation with Kevin, she revealed that she felt exposed by making this film as it touched on intimate topics that she’d only share with Joana. Does this make her regret doing the film?

“I’m not disappointed at all. The things we said and represented are a part of us and it shows how open we are to one another. The fact that I can tell when something is amiss with Joana, our ability to banter through the hardships and sit in silence captures the depth of our connection.”

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