By Bethsheba Achitsa
Published December 4, 2010
The Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media movement for children and youth in eastern Africa wound up her six-day cutting-edge skill-development mentorship programmes in critical writing and creative documentary filmmaking for 30 talents drawn from Nairobi and its environs on December 4, 2010.
The learn-as-you-do workshops equipped the participants with the necessary skills for making creative documentary films and in critically appreciating films in particular and the arts (fine art, architecture, music, dance, theatre, literature) in general.
While the critical writing and journalism workshop for 15 youngsters was conducted by Ogova Ondego, a creative and cultural entrepreneur, writer and film critic based in Kenya, Allan Aligula of independent production house, Fiyuhworks, guided 15 other participants in the making of creative documentary films. The participants, aged 9-22 years, made three short films: VANESSA’S DREAM, THE MONSTERS OF THE NEW AGE and PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
While VANESSA’ S DREAM is about a nine year old girl’s dream of becoming an actress when she grows up, THE MONSTERS OF THE NEW AGE is about the dangers that children using the internet are exposed to from interacting in the virtual world. The third documentary, PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT reflects on what young people are doing to conserve the environment.
Conducted in the framework of Cinetoile – the Africalia-supported African cinema network – the workshops were aimed at equipping young people with the skills to document day to day happenings using various mass media tools.
An intensive learning activity that also aimed at introducing young people to the audiovisual media sector in Kenya, the workshops consisted of motivational talks from players in the Kenya audiovisual media sector and Belgium. They included filmmakers Judy Kibinge, Guy Wilson and Wanuri Kahiu, art director Ali Mwangola and film producer Aurelien Bodinaux.
Kibinge shared with the young people on the various ways of penetrating the film sector. While she observed that some people might not like working as learners on productions, she encouraged the young people to work as assistants in the various film production departments.
Kahiu, on the other hand, lauded the children for their efforts of embarking on the gruelling path to becoming filmmakers and critics. She said that it was the right thing at this moment because more than ever, the world is eager to listen to East Africa. Saying her first target in her films is herself, she encouraged the young participants to know what they want to address before shooting their stories. She encouraged the participants to take up this challenge and continue filling the gap in the audiovisual media sector in the country and the East African region.
Uniquely, Lola Kenya Screen welcomed Ali Mwangola, an art director, to share with the young people about art directing in film. Having worked both as an art director and locations manager on various international and local productions, he addressed the challenges faced by practitioners in the art department.
Echoing what Wanuri Kahiu’s comment that the world is interested in Eastern African stories, Aurelien Bordinaux, the Cinetoile coordinator and film producer from Belgium, observed that by telling stories about their region, filmmakers have a big role in demystifying the ill-conceived notions about the Africa in the West.
Guy Wilson, a film producer from the Nairobi-based Ginger Ink film production house, encouraged the young people to start on the path to their chosen career now instead of procrastinating.