Making its world premiere, “The Kings of Kilimanjaro” marks the culmination of a four-year journey for the filmmaking duo, The Frank Bros. Shot during an exciting climb up the mountain, the film offers an immersive look into the little-known world of the Black Indigenous Chagga Mountain Guides. Conveniently forgotten by history, these incredible athletes – chefs and porters and guides – are the ones who make each ascent of the legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro possible.
At 19,341 feet and located in equatorial East Africa, Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest solitary peak and is one of the famed Seven Summits. Living in its famous foothills, the Chagga people have been climbing the mountain for centuries. The documentary showcases the strength, tenderness, and leadership of these Tanzanian guides who wear multiple hats as athletes, first responders, personal coaches, and lifesavers.
“It is in their blood,” said Eddie Frank, one half of the Frank Bros. filmmaking duo. “It is what they do and who they are. They are the real heroes of the mountain. Kilimanjaro is a harsh and brutal place, and without Chagga guides – the Kings – no one summits. No one survives. Rich or poor, young or old, no one hits that peak without the help of these guys.”
Eddie Frank founded his legacy trekking company, Tusker Trail, 47 years ago. And with it built an astounding career over almost five decades exploring and leading treks into the most exotic destinations on Earth. As a recent inductee into the world-famous EXPLORERS CLUB, he has climbed Kilimanjaro 54 times. But seven of the Tusker Chagga mountain guides featured in the film have summited more than five times that.
“I have always been in awe of the Chagga people and their mastery of the mountain. Their knowledge of the terrain, flora and fauna, and the Kilimanjaro ecosystem is unparalleled,” said Eddie Frank.
Eddie knew that the story was one he had to tell, after his first Kilimanjaro climb in the early 1980s. To create the film, he teamed up with his brother Laurence, an established television writer and producer who has had seen his own share of adventures with Eddie. Their seamless film collaboration delivers an enthralling immersion into a hothouse, exotic mountain-climbing subculture the world knows nothing about.
And since music plays a crucial role in the Kings’ climb on the majestic mountain, the documentary soundtrack features traditional acapella mountain songs, performed by the Chagga climbing team for motivation on the climb. The soundtrack also offers stirring original tracks composed and performed by Afropop star, Samba Mapangala – produced jointly by Eddie Frank and Samba Mapangala with Samba’s band in Paris.
“Music is central to the film because it’s a foundation of Chagga culture, and we wanted to showcase its important role during a Kilimanjaro climb,” said Eddie Frank.
A momentous celebration of the bravery, resilience, and compassion of the Black Indigenous Chagga Mountain Guides, the film is streaming exclusively on www.KingsOfKilimanjaro.com.