By Bethsheba Achitsa
Published September 29, 2011
The announcement was made by Beverly Gatimu, a communication lecturer and executive producer of student productions at the private Christian institution during the 49th monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum (LKSFF) at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi on September 26, 2011 at which a film by students of Daystar University was screened .
Directed by Portia Opondo, a final year electronic media student, the 42-minute drama on greed for power, status and wealth set the pace for the evening of film, debate and networking among players in the audiovisual media sector of eastern Africa. The film – that is aptly titled AT ALL COSTS – brings to light the shady business that goes on in the university when the best suited candidate is to be promoted to the post of Vice-Chancellor.
AT ALL COSTS may not be a masterpiece but the 49th LKSFF lauded the efforts that Opondo and her classmates put in to come up with the piece. The gathering, comprising students from University of Nairobi, Kenya Polytechnic University College, Kenyatta University as well as practitioners in the Kenya audiovisual media spectrum, equally appreciated as well as faulted the film on its shortcomings.
A kidnapping scene featuring a daughter of one of the contenders for the VC’s post sets the pace for the film.
While commending Opondo for her attempt in coming up with this piece of work, Ogova Ondego, the Lola Kenya Screen director, opined that the film ‘though embracing social particularism’ lacked universal appeal and could not connect well with viewers from beyond Kenya.Â He also observed that many of the cast members did not deliver in their performance for the production.
Yuriko Uehara of Kenya Museum Society questioned the aim of the film, arguing that it lacked a strong motive to drive the plot forward.
Acknowledging that her film lacked universal appeal and that it appeared that the motive of the crimes committed in the film appeared not to have been brought forth strongly, Opondo put this to the limiting circumstances she said her team and she worked under. She however noted that her primary audience was university students in Kenya.
Executive producer Gatimu came to Opondo’s defence arguing that students work under difficult circumstances in realizing their films. A class of 30 students specialising in Electronic media, she said, is split into two groups to form the crew and the cast; the class develops its own screen play and selects key crew and cast members based on their perceived strengths and abilities. Though short on time and other resources like money, the students -who are still expected to handle a full course load – must make a film of acceptable quality.
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Samuel Maithya a Journalism student at Kenya Polytechnic University College wondered what happens to such productions after production. Gatimu said Daystar uses these projects to source for funds in order to make the productions better.
Reiterating Ondego’s sentiments about poor casting, Njiru Wang’ombe(a post-graduate student at Kenyatta University) also commented on the continuity of the story, observing that it was important if the director wanted to win the audience’s confidence in the story.
Opondo, who is currently working as an intern on the Rising Stars project of South Africa’s M-Net TV network, said that she is saddened with the statistics on HIV/AIDs in Kenya and that she is planning to do a documentary film based on it to sensitise society on the problem. However, she said, she is out to learn more before she fully plunges into the deep end of big project productions.
LKSFF, that runs every last Monday of the month at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi, provides up-and-coming filmmakers and producers a platform on which to showcase their work to the public and an opportunity to network with experts in the various fields of filmmaking. It has since 2005 been presented by ComMattersKenya/ArtMatters.Info in collaboration with Goethe-Institut in Kenya.