By Bethsheba Achitsa
Published October 16, 2010
September 26, 2010 was a special day in the life of 365 teenage girls at Enoomatasiani Girls’ Secondary School as the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, mentorship programme and market for children and youth set up camp here for one-day film festival. This is part of the pan African Cinetoile mobile cinema project that is promoting five African feature films.
Supported by Africalia of Belgium, Lola Kenya Screen has since the beginning of 2010 toured the whole of Nairobi showing films from Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Congo-Kinshasa.
Being a boarding school forms of entertainment for the girls in the school are limited to one day and for a few hours over the weekend where they have to create their own performances to entertain one another. So a whole day spent watching films from various African countries was not only a chance for them to entertain themselves but offered a glimpse into the audiovisual industry in Africa.
“We hope that through the films we are going to watch we will be able to explore the talents in the film industry and we hope that Lola Kenya Screen will make it possible for us to enter the field,” a form three student commented as the Lola Kenya Screen’s Cinetoile crew set up the equipment in the dining hall.
The films that touch on the various facets of life in Africa kept the students entertained and raised a lot of questions in their minds. In fact, they refused to move out of the hall when the screening crew announced it was late and that the screening could be continued another day; they only walked out after last film “HERITAGE AFRICA from Ghana” had run all its 115 minutes!
With the project aiming to strengthen and promote film distribution while giving socially and economically disadvantaged communities access to African films, it is also clear that creating a real cinematic experience as we know it for the audience is still a challenge. Enoomatasiani students may have been privileged to have benches on which to sit unlike their counterparts in other schools who have to either sit on top of desks, stand or sit on the floor to watch the films. Lack of proper cinemas, comfortable seats and air-conditioning prevent the audience from film enjoyment.
“I am glad that Lola Kenya Screen came to our school; it has been an educative session as I have been able to understand some of Africa’s history. This is something that is well captured unlike in text books where it is basically summarised in few points,” a form four history student commented after watching LUMUMBA, Paris-based Haitian Raoul Peck’s fictionalised film based on the true story of Patrice Lumumba who played a great role in the independence of the Belgian Congo.
While Cameroon’s MAH SAAH SAH appeared to have deeply moved and impressed the audience, they easily identified with Kenya’s FROM A WHISPER due to the fact that it was set in Kenya and featured cast and themes they understood.
The students felt that instead of targeting innocent Kenya, the terrorists should have gone after the USA itself. They felt that Kenya should not allow the USA to have interests in their country if that attracted terror groups to bomb the East African nation.