Subira is a free-spirited young Muslim girl born to be in the water, yet her unique dream of swimming is constrained by the gender stereotypes and traditions of her orthodox Muslim community. Against local customs and much to her mother’s dismay, Subira’s father welcomes his daughter’s passion taking her with him on his fishing trips and letting her swim in the ocean. But when he suddenly dies in a boating accident, so do the fleeting moments Subira had of realizing her dream. She now finds herself firmly in the clutches of her traditional mother, Mwana, whose single-minded aim is to arrange a good marriage for her daughter.

Following Subira as she matures into womanhood, the film tells the story of both her arranged marriage at 18 to the handsome and progressive Taquif and her quest to finally learn how to swim. This searing family drama vividly captures the paradox of modernity versus tradition, freedom of the ocean versus the constraints of marriage, as it begs the question: are the two compatible?

 Director Sippy Chadha expanded her award-winning short film of the same name into an engaging feature-length drama about a young woman’s determination and fight to follow her dreams, despite the constraints and challenges in her way.


SUBIRA Feature Film has won 5 top Kalasha Awards.

1. Best Feature Film – Ravneet Sippy Chadha and Vibeke Muasya

2. Best Director – Ravneet Sippy Chadha

3. Best Lighting Technician – Saul Ogada

4. Best Lead Actress in a Film – Brenda Wairimu

5. Best Editing – Roselidah Taabu & Terry Kelly

Subjects: African Studies, African Cinema, World Cinema

Institutional Licensing Options

DVD with PPR: $349

DVD with Digital Site License: $449

DVD with Digital Site License + Public Performance Rights: $499

Institutional Licensing Options

YEAR: 2018
GENRE: Feature Film – Drama
DURATION: 99 min
COUNTRY: Kenya, Denmark
DIRECTOR: Sippy Chadha
WRITER: Sippy Chadha
CAST: Brenda Wairimu, Tirath Padam, Nice Githinji, Melvin Alusa