The Letter

Maia Lekow/Christopher King, Kenya, 2020

81 minutes, Swahili/English with English subtitles

The Letter is a family portrait that ascends into a dramatic climax of Shakespearean proportions. Karisa’s city-life is interrupted when his grandma is called a witch and receives a death threat. Returning to his rural village to investigate, he finds that a frenzied mixture of consumerism and Christianity is turning hundreds of families against their elders, branding them as witches to steal their ancestral land. As Karisa delicately navigates between his disputing relatives, the love for his grandmother and her fearless spirit must overcome the imminent danger of the accusations against her. The inevitable universal theme of how land is divided when an elder dies, is entangled by the chaotic mixture of traditions of the past with the newly imposed influence of western values and religion. The understated power of women alongside the resilience of family and community, shines above all else, despite the growing threat of greed and inter-generational alienation.


Maia Lekow is an award-winning Kenyan musician and filmmaker. Fusing her music with a fascination of people and culture, Maia has worked as film director, producer, composer & sound recordist. Currently performing with her band Maia & the Big Sky on international stages, her debut feature film, The Letter explores the inter-generational conflict currently happening within Maia’s homeland, coastal Kenya. Also featuring an original score by Maia, The Letter has been supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund, IDFA Bertha Fund, Hot Docs Blue Ice, Visions Sud Est and Docubox East African Film Fund

Christopher King is an award-winning filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. A Swahili speaker, he was awarded an African Movie Academy Award for editing, and has worked within the East African film industry as a freelance cinematographer, editor, director/producer and video artist. Christopher’s debut feature documentary, The Letter, co-directed and co-produced with wife Maia Lekow, premiered at IDFA and AFI DOCS after six years of filming, having been supported by Sundance DFP, IDFA Bertha Fund, Hot Docs Blue Ice, Good Pitch Kenya, Docubox East African Documentary Fund, Visions Sud Est, and Chicken & Egg Pictures.

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