Since 2015, award-winning Canadian director Brent Foster has been traveling the world in search of living legacies — individuals who strive to lead selfless, impactful lives. He’s combined their stories into a collection called “While I’m Here | The Legacy Project,” which also serves as Brent’s personal passion project. We sat down with Brent to discuss his most recent film, “ENOUGH,” which took him and his team to Nairobi’s most dangerous slum to tell the story of Beatrice, an elderly woman who decided to take a stand against sexual assault. As she put it: enough was enough.
How did the issue of sexual assault in Nairobi first come to your attention?
I first saw a short news clip about the women featured in “ENOUGH” about eight years ago. I keep an ongoing list of potential passion projects to pursue, and I kept coming back to their story. Throughout the three years that I’ve been working on the Legacy Project — which aims to tell the incredible stories of older generations who are passing on a tradition, culture, or message — the story of these women kept resurfacing. As it came time to wrap up the global series with a final installment, it felt like the perfect time to honor these women.
What did you know about the country prior to visiting? What did you learn while you were there?
I’ve worked in Nairobi, and throughout Kenya, in the past as a photojournalist for Human Rights Watch and as a freelancer, so I was fairly familiar with the area and with what to expect. That said, this was my first time in Korogocho, which is Nairobi’s most dangerous slum.
We knew filming wasn’t going to be easy, and we also knew that doing anything after dark was going to be risky, considering the size of our kit and crew — even with hired security helping to keep us safe and focused on the creative side of the story.
We constantly learn that some of the toughest places in the world have some of the most incredible people who deserve to be highlighted and championed, and this experience was no exception. It was an honor to spend time with these incredible women and to help share their message.
What was it like filming in Korogocho?
Four of us traveled from Canada to Kenya to tell this story. On the ground, we also hired a local crew to join in the creation the film. So, in total, we had about 12 people (including fixers, drivers, security, and former gang members from the area) working with us to create “ENOUGH.”
In all honesty, Korogocho is a tough place. Crime is a huge problem, gangs are prevalent, and there are some major addiction issues with locally brewed alcohol and drugs. Most people live off of less than a dollar a day, and on top of that, everyone is jam-packed into a tiny area.
This was part of the story we were telling, but it also served as a challenge. We had to rely heavily on our local team members, who were incredibly valuable in helping calm situations and ease tension while filming.
Overall, the experience was a great one, but there were definitely some sleepless nights leading up to and during the production. I also felt a huge responsibility to make sure my crew members were safe. They were all supporting this story idea and vision, and that puts some pressure on you as a director — especially since the majority of us were there volunteering our time to make this happen.
How were you and your team received in Korogocho? Can you describe some interactions you had throughout the community?
As a whole, we were received very positively. People were extremely interested in what we were doing, and everyone in the community knew Beatrice and the rest of the women featured in the film, so it seemed as though they were happy we were there sharing the positive side to a difficult story and documenting their legacy.
Of course, we had some negative run-ins with people here and there, but they were fairly isolated and, overall, the experience was incredible.
How have the stories shared in “ENOUGH” impacted you personally?
I am constantly amazed by the good that people have inside them, even when they’ve faced some of life’s toughest situations. Her story reminded me to be extremely thankful for what I have, and to see how much of an honor and a privilege it is to have the chance to spend time with such inspirational people.
What impact do you hope this film will have in the long run?
I hope this project inspires others to take action in their own communities and to stand up for a cause they believe in. I hope it also inspires women to continue to empower each other, and encourages other filmmakers to pursue passion projects of their own so that they can help tell the stories that are often overlooked.
What does the future of “ENOUGH” look like?
Above all, I hope that the telling of this story helps the lives of these incredible women in some capacity. We have high hopes that we may be able to assist them in a positive way.
While I’m Here | The Legacy Project has been the most important thing I’ve ever done. While it doesn’t pay the bills, like my commercial work does, it’s the most soul-filling thing I’ve ever been a part of. Because of this, I am incredibly thankful to all of the people who have volunteered their time to help make this project a reality, and, of course, to the incredible people we have had a chance to document along the way!