Leaving Isiolo

In and around the border-town of Isiolo, in East Africa, a young Kenyan businesswoman and a young Chinese miner prepare to leave town to begin their new life together - meeting at their favorite restaurant for one last meal.

  • Irungu Mutu
  • Irungu Mutu
  • Loui Terrier
  • Wanzilu Maingi
  • Auudi Rowa
    Key Cast
    "Ciiku Owiro"
  • Zhang 'Troy' Renquan
    Key Cast
  • Irungu Mutu
    Key Cast
    "Mr. Musa"
  • Zhao 'James' Chuangzao
    Key Cast
  • Zhao 'Mocha' Jiajie
    Key Cast
  • Agatha Jamari
    Key Cast
  • William Mwangi
    Key Cast
  • Cynthiah Muthogi
    Key Cast
    "Hannah the Waitress"
  • Meriwas Ray
    Key Cast
    "Boda Boda Taxi-Driver"
  • Samuel Lekampaiyo
    Key Cast
  • Aisha Rajad
    Key Cast
    "Black Hijab Lady"
  • Shakila Swedi
    Key Cast
    "Blue Hijab Lady "
  • George Kariuki
    Key Cast
    "Muslim Man"
  • Loui Terrier
    Key Cast
    "Unga’s SUV Driver"
  • Joan Poggio
    Director of Photography
  • Victoria C. Page
    Edited by
  • Wynne Bennett
    Original Music Composition by
  • Gisburg Smialek
    Sound Design & Mix
  • Dale Koten'go
    Production Designer
  • Njeri 'Leeze' Gatheru
    Costume Designer
  • Ayo Jackson
    Dance Choreography
  • Jackson Kang'ethe
    Assistant Camera
  • Onesmus Karanja
  • Wangechi Mutu
    Executive Producers
  • Mario Lazzaroni
    Executive Producers
  • Irungu Mutu
    Executive Producers
  • Joshua Trojak
    Associate Producers
  • Wambura Mutu
    Associate Producers
  • Mutu wa Gethoi
    Associate Producers
  • Arthur Sanya Muiruri
    Associate Producers
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Crime Drama, Neo-Western, Romance
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 57 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 24, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Mandarin Chinese, Swahili
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Irungu Mutu


Irungu [ee-ro-go] Mutu is an accomplished actor of stage, screen, and television. He's been a proud union member of both SAG-AFTRA & Actors' Equity for over a dozen years.

This is Irungu's first film and he made it with the most awesome team on earth. :)

He's based in Los Angeles.


Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Good morning!

“Leaving Isiolo” is a neo-western crime drama, and a story of forbidden love between a woman, Ciiku (Auudi Rowa), and a man, Lee (Troy Zhang), from vastly different worlds, who find each other in the harsh, remote terrain of northern Kenya. When the pair try to escape to build their new life together, she from her job balancing the books for the regional crime lord, and he from an abusive boss at a Chinese mining company, Isiolo becomes a very dangerous place for them both. How far will they go to be together?
I grew up in the cosmopolitan African city of Nairobi, Kenya, went to University in the United States, and now split my time between the two. As a result, whether as an actor on stage, film, and television or now as a first-time filmmaker, I am drawn to stories that explore the relationship of the African continent to the modern world. I’m fascinated by the migration of different peoples, and how they interact with others inhabiting that same space.
Auudi Rowa is a university student and rising star, who I found during open-call auditions. To find the actor who portrays Lee, I combed the Nairobi-Chinese community. I fell in love with a non-actor Troy Zhang after he introduced me to his nine-month-old daughter, Mara, born in Nairobi and named after the world-famous Maasai Mara National Park. I cast Troy as Lee because he was sensitive and personally knew what it meant to start from scratch as a newly arrived immigrant to Africa. He’s very well known in the Chinese community and helped bring along two colleagues, also non-actors, who appear as fellow mine-workers.
In making the film, I was lucky to have the help of producers Loui Terrier and Wanzilu Maingi; the great eye of Director of Photography Joan Poggio; and the magic hand of executive producer Wangechi Mutu, my sister, muse, and world-renowned contemporary visual artist. The crew came from the thriving Kenyan film community.
I also want to thank the 2013 Sundance Directors Lab, where creative advisor Alfre Woodard taught me that “the film you wrote, isn’t the film you’ll shoot, and it won’t be the film you’ll edit.” It was a lesson to allow what I wrote to organically take its own shape through each phase.
“Leaving Isiolo” stands alone as a short film, but it's also a study for a feature-length screenplay, now in development. Enjoy my directorial debut!


~ Irungu Mutu & the Leaving Isiolo Team.