From the playful world of the children to the busy life of adulthood that is tension filled especially when it comes to relationship matters, Lola Kenya Screen that holds her fifth edition of the annual event in August 9-14, 2010 will provide a rich serving of films from across the world. The festival, that has for the first time attracted the participation of Tunisia, Kosovo and Malawi and has Spain leading in the number of films submitted for consideration not only entertain but also carry messages of hope to all people irrespective of considerations such as race, gender, sex or class.
The films that cater for three year-olds to adults include animated films, docu-dramas, fictionalised, experimental and drama films. The films thus address family issues, self identity among teenagers and pertinent issues that affect children. Special attention is drawn to the art of music where filmmakers are not only looking at it as a form of entertainment that also adds value to the art of filmmaking but as a universal language that transcends politics and race.
But more important is the fact that the filmmakers who have submitted films from across the six continents have shown a particular interest in giving a voice to the physically challenged and children who are faced with difficulties such as Down syndrome. With this in mind is a 98-minute feature�VORSTAADTKROKODILE/The Crocodiles�that German director Christian Ditter adapts from a popular 1977 novel with a great deal of humour, action, and adventure for today�s cinema screens to show the lives of two young children who are desperate to join the �coolest� gang in the area, the Vorstadtkrokodile. Hannes, 10, lives with his single mother but his �entry test� to the gang goes wrong and his life is saved by Kai, who is desperate to join the gang, too. But Kai is bound in a wheelchair and unable to even run away when things get hot. But when Kai witnesses a crime the gang is interested in solving, he suddenly becomes a subject of great interest to the gang, being the only witness. He, in turn will talk only if he can be admitted. With his help and typically youthful imagination and courage, the group sets off to solve the case and takes on an apparently unbeatable criminal gang.
In another fictionalised 15-minute film, PODER/Able from Spain, Emilio Santin explores the life of Carlos Cortes, a 14-year old with Down syndrome. Not wanting to be brought down by this challenge Cortes compensates any intellectual disadvantage with his extraordinary willpower. At the Beginning of each school year he sets a goal for himself that he always achieves.
Nigeria, whose films are characterised by � an excess of murder, ritual sacrifice, poisoning, robbery and suicide�, has moved away from these common themes and in CHAMPIONS OF OUR TIME�a 120-minute drama�director Mak’ Kusare tells the misery of those who are physically challenged through Sophia, a whiz kid who is crippled from the waist down and resides in Port-Harcourt but who, nevertheless, is full of hope. When St. Flair’s Foundation of France funds a quiz competition for secondary school girls aged 12 � 16 years through a local NGO, Sharon, a girl from a well to do family is is allowed to register for the competition while Sophia is denied registration on the account of her being physically challenged. In this film, exceptionally brilliant Treasure Obasi as Sophia and Feyisola Ewulomi as Sharon put up a thrilling show that also, hopefully, culminates in the cultivation of new values for an equitable society.
St. Flair’s Foundation intervenes in the nick of time and Sophia is eventually allowed to register. However, the NGO has vowed that the trophy and prize money must go to the “right person” as she will be the flag bearer of the country in Europe. Who can save Sophia this time round?
Apart from adressing the difficulties of the physically challenged, filmmakers have also tackled the problem of marital feuds. ERKCAR MIR LIEBE/Tales of Love by German Florian Aigner who has submitted a documentary film essay that without taking sides tries to sensitively trace the forces that drive married couples apart. Four sets of parents tell about their great love, the battle of the sexes and about the difficulties to achieve a viable relationship as parents after the break-up in this 66-minute documentary.
Another film of interest is JANAKI (Daughter of the Earth), a 2010 Indian production in Malayalam, running 92 minutes and tackling the plight of homeless or street children in society. Orphaned and abandoned in the open streets, 12-year-old Janaki undergoes abuse and exploitation. The film, featuring music, dance and acting, is written and directed by award-winning MG Sasi. It is produced by Prakash Bare of Silicon Media.
Apart from showcasing these films, Lola Kenya Screen whose main mission is to inculcate a film-going culture among the publics alongside giving children and youth a chance to nurture their talents in audiovisual media, has introduced film discussions after the screenings. This is to create a platform where the audience not only gets to watch the films but also interact with the filmmakers and share their views about the stories told and the aspects of filmmaking. This, together with an hourly media literacy seminar to run through the six days of the festival, has been incorporated so as to give the audience an upper hand in understanding the various opportunities and threats inherent in the mass media. The festival is expected to showcase more than 100 films from the six continents.