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About the film

Noella Luka is an aspiring African filmmaker who dreamed of living and working abroad. That dream came to a crashing halt when Noella was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar disorder while studying at a film school in the U.S. Now back in Kenya, where mental health issues are usually not talked about, Noella's been collecting pieces of information, recording what she can remember, trying to shine a light on what happened to her and why. But doing so makes everyone feel uncomfortable, including herself, so she has to figure out how to reach out to her family, friends, and community. How come nobody noticed anything or did they, and they didn't' want to talk about it? Her family tries to be supportive, but they are unsure of what this means. It feels like she has to change everything, including her friends. Her old friends can't understand what she is going through. How can they?


She then joins a support group, where she meets Nick, he relocates back home from Columbia where he was on a journey to become a catholic priest. The illusion of wealth creation in a foreign land, culture shock, disappointment about his life's path, discrimination in a foreign land saw him question his decision to become a priest. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Back home, his light has been dimmed. Nick is trying to fit in a world that constantly questions his life choices. His closest family being his grandma and sister still have faith that he will thrive in life. Nick exposes the difference of life when one doesn't have any support system.


When Nick disappears, Noella has to try to help the family find him. This also takes a toll on her, and after her mother becomes unwell, she finds herself amidst a storm. How does she survive this? What's Eating My Mind takes us on an unprecedented journey full of fear and hope, trying to understand what mental illness in Kenya.

ONLINE ASSEMBLY_JI_26 OCT With Subs + Color + Sound + Scale corrections + QC corrections.0

Nicholas Osir (A still from 'What's Eating My Mind')

Featuring Noella Luka Nicholas Osir Luke Nzangi Cecilia Luka Raphael Nzangi Leonida Osir Veronica Awuor

Written and Directed by Noella Luka  

Editors Khalid Shamis Wavua Mwambonu  Cinematographer Wambui "Bo" Muigai Noella Luka

Sound recording  Edwin Ahenda Diana Kairu

Sound Design Muna Chuba

Music RIGGA  Color Grading KeyFrame

Line Producers  Ruth Munyiri Production Manager Ivy Kiru Communications & Impact Chloe Genga Lucky Mwachi 

Executive Producers Bramwel Iro Don Edkins Tiny Mungwe Sam Soko

Produced By

Sam Soko



One day I was in film school in a foreign land, and shortly after, I was in a psychiatric ward. Two extremes that I decided to pursue. My diagnosis of unspecified bipolar disorder was unexpected and confusing. The lived reality of migration is that your Mental Health will be affected.

What’s Eating my Mind speaks to that and questions why as a society, we didn’t open up about it sooner? As a Director, I had to be vulnerable, which makes me uncomfortable, yet, that’s the only way the audience gets to experience our world. Reflection is an essential part of progress, so I came back home to Kenya.


At home, I had to grapple with traditions. In Africa, mental illness has often been a taboo subject, with many associating it with witchcraft or a condition that needs prayers to chase away evil spirits. The stereotypes that come with the condition have people like me labeled as “mad man or crazy.”


Worse still, society mostly seems to recognize people with mental illness only when they are in dire need of help. But not for the right reasons-again to judge and blame. While making this film, I had questions and quickly learned not everyone is as curious as I was. I found a community where I asked more questions. This story has had me turn the camera on myself, my family, and my friends, most of whom question why I came back home. It explores the curiosity I have as a filmmaker trying to find their voice, often trying to grasp a conversation that, for the longest time, has been silenced or, better said, behind closed doors.

I chose to Direct this film because I quickly learned that having a mental illness, I had no place in society and that my fate was somehow sealed. So I turned my curiosity to this ‘thing’ that everyone seemed to know about but never really tried to unravel or simply did not know-how. This film has pushed me and challenged me. It has helped give a voice to conversations previously preserved for scientific experts. If you are as curious about Mental Health as I am, let’s talk about it.

Our Collaborators

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