By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published July 6, 2012
The 57th monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum film screening, discussion and networking platform in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 25, 2012 showcased several films scripted, edited and directed by children and youth participants of the learn-as-you-do film production mentorship programme of the Lola Kenya Screen film festival, skill-development programme and market for children and youth in eastern Africa.
Among the animation, fiction, documentary and experimental films that were screened include MONSTERS OF THE NEW AGE, PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, VANESSA’S DREAM, LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, THE WISE BRIDE, MANANI OGRES, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, IT’S MY LIFE and MAMA AFRICA.
The audience was intrigued by the thoughtfulness, sparkle and entertaining qualities of the films made by children for children. The originality of the films, they said, awed them. What was even more intriguing, nay surprising, was the fact that the audience seemed to indicate that they were seeing these films for the first time.
Among the first questions after the screening of the films was whether the children come up with the ideas, scripts and every other thing in the films on their own.
Ogova Ondego the Managing Trustee, Creative Director and producer of the films said the basic idea of having children make films at the mentorship programme is to get the thoughts of the children exactly as they stream through their minds. Changing anything in the film to conform to adult view, he said, would interfere with the children’s thinking and the whole idea of films by children and youth for children and youth that drives the vision of Lola Kenya Screen.
Ondego said he had made a conscious decision to have the children’s productions on the monthly platform after realizing that most participants at the Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum which is normally held every last Monday of month throughout the year thought Lola Kenya Screen was just a monthly screening, discussion and networking initiative. Consequently, the 57th forum focused on what Lola Kenya Screen is and does besides showcasing the creativity of children and youth through film.
Daki Mohammed, a regular presenter at Lola Kenya Screen whose film”VANESSA’S DREAM”was shown was present at the forum to answer the endless questions from the audience. Co-directed with Adede Hawi, the award-winning VANESSA’S DREAM documentary is about a young girl who dreams of becoming a performer and the efforts she puts in the realization of her dream. It won the 5th Kids for Kids Festival Africa award, an all-Africa competition organised and presented in the framework of Lola Kenya Screen.
Mohamed described Lola Kenya Screen as “a hub where talent is developed and nurtured.” She says she owes all her skills in filmmaking and Emceeing to the Lola Kenya Screen skill development programmes.
Neemoh Wairimu Mugane, a member of the audience, raised the issue of the publicity of the Lola Kenya Screen skill development programmes. She felt the initiative isn’t well publicised. Her concern about the publicity of Lola Kenya Screen was echoed by a large part of the audience who said that they were surprised that something as remarkable as that was taking place right under their noses without their knowledge. They suggested a wide range of ways to make the Lola Kenya Screen programmes more public. Apart from the social media like facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr and direct email that Lola Kenya Screen employs, they suggested that other methods of advertising be used; that traditional media like radio, newspapers and television be used in order to reach children at the grassroots.
Director Ondego explained that all those media have been used in the past and that that was why the programme was attracting children and youth from outside Kenya. He agreed that using traditional media had proved expensive in the recent past as the cost of operation has been increasing steadily while Lola Kenya Screen, a charity without resources, isn’t receiving much financial support from the society in which it operates.
Mugane, who described herself as an art lover and an artist by profession, regretted that she did not have such an opportunity such as Lola Kenya Screen to get mentorship while growing up. She stressed that if she had had the privilege of attending a mentorship programme she would have been a superstar by now. This she said while commenting on the work of the children and youth who are already excelling at what they do at a very young age.
Beverly Mukami Gatimu, a communications lecturer at Daystar University, suggested that while Lola Kenya Screen is still sourcing for money, it can use avenues such as free interviews with newspapers and television stations because with the current rate of bad peer influence and the tight career schedules parents have, most parents are more than willing to have their children attend such a programme at whatever cost. According to Gatimu, there are so many parents out there who are willing to spend money on their children, if only on a worthy cause like Lola Kenya Screen.
The Forum ended with a note of commitment from the audience who pledged to help Lola Kenya Screen market itself, source for funds and help develop it in whatever other way that is within their means in order to better and expand its reach and effectiveness.
The Lola Kenya Screen film screening, discussion and networking platform that seeks to integrate filmmaking with other socio-cultural and economic sectors in eastern Africa, is a collaboration of ComMattersKenya with Goethe Institut in Kenya. Meeting every last Monday of the month throughout the year since 2005, it brings together filmmakers, film scholars, film critics, policy makers and funders to discuss, analyse and chart the way forward for the audiovisual media sector in eastern Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo-Kinshasa, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia.