By Bethsheba Achitsa
Published June 26, 2011
From the uncomfortable valleys of Mathare in Nairobi, Kenya where children have to have to jump over flowing sewage and watch films on their feet without any protection from the elements to the comfortable cultural centres of Bogota, Colombia and cinemas of Busan, South Korea, Lola Kenya Screen productions are setting the pace for children’s productions.
They may lack proper budgets and production schedules ‘they are made over a 2-4-day period during the six-day festival’ that are common for big budget Hollywood and Bollywood productions but these witty short films ‘some are as short as 30 seconds’ made in the framework of learn-as-you-do skill-development mentorship workshops have not only won the admiration of festival-goers but won grand prizes on various continents where they are shown.
Drawing their themes from the day-to-day world of the children, four productions made by children aged 6-15-years during the annual Lola Kenya Screen are set for competition and showcasing at international film festivals in South Korea, Australia and Iran.
HAPPY TIMES by Elaine Nesbitt, MANANI OGRES by Samuel Musembi, Joseph Hongo, Marcus Kang’ethe and Norrick Mwangi, and SANTOS THE SURVIVOR by Rupinder Jagdev have been selected for the Ready Action! competition section of the 6th Busan International Kids’ Film Festival in Busan, South Korea. Seven other Lola Kenya Screen productions shall show in the Kids For Kids Festival section as part of the global Kids For Kids Festival programme.
Additionally, Lola Kenya Screen’s most successful production ‘LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS’ that has been to the nook and cranny of the four corners of the globe since its making in 2007 has been selected for the Jump Cut screening programme of the 2011 Bayside Film Festival that holds August 17-20, 2011 at Palace Brighton Bay, Bay Street, Brighton, Victoria, Australia.
LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS that was made in Kiswahili in 2007 by Adede Hawi, Samora Oundo and Karama Ogova has enjoyed immense participation at film festivals having played on virtually every continent. When three non-literate friends decide to learn English in an attempt to impress, little do they know the amount of trouble they are landing themselves in. The story is simply told from the children’s own perspective. Realised under the guidance of Finnish Maikki Kantola, LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS was in December 2010 shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota, Colombia where it was shown to more than 1500 boys and girls. The film has won awards and accolades across the world where it has been screened. It continues to be one of Lola Kenya Screen’s all-time favourites with children in Oceania, South America, North America, South-East Asia and even in the Middle East.
While HAPPY TIMES, MANANI OGRES and LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS are films made by children aged 6-15years, SANTOS THE SURVIVOR is one of the six short documentaries for children and youth made by practicing filmmakers during a Lola Kenya Screen film production workshop. This was one of the many hands-on workshops conducted with the aim of sensitising practitioners in the film sector on the need for creating specialised content for hildren. Jagdev’s SANTOS THE SURVIVOR has been a favourite on the world film festival circuit. It was part of the Jan Vrijman Fund documentary tour in various film festivals in 2010. It was nominated for best short documentary at the Africa Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria in 2009.
With more than 32 well crafted award winning films, Lola Kenya Screen has also been promoting the productions from Kenya through the weekly community screenings that have since October 2011 provided dwellers in the informal settlements in Kibera and Mathare with a chance to watch films made by children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen’s productions that address issues such as caring for the environment, children’s talent as well as technological advancement are part of this initiative.
PASSION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FACEBOK ERA, HOUSE OF TALENT, BROTHER-brother (The Quiet Katoto), LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, THE UNENDING ADVENTURE and SANTOS THE SURVIVOR have all been shown in the informal settlements to much acclaim from the audience comprising children, youth and adults.
“We are focused on film 365 days a year through our weekly skill-development mentorship programmes in schools, school/community mobile cinema, monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum, annual Lola Kenya Screen film festival and special audiovisual media outreach programmes,” says Ogova Ondego, director of the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media initiative. “Our mobile cinema programme covers the breadth and width of Nairobi Metropolis and her environs, including Mathare and Kibera informal settlements.”
Asked to say what Lola Kenya Screen is or does, Ondego simply says, “We are a global movement of young filmmakers and media educators. Our agenda is media literacy and creative & cultural entrepreneurship.”
While Lola Kenya Screen is an initiative that explores, identifies, nurtures and flaunts creative talent among children and youth, the need to see the Kenya and eastern African film sector mature into a veritable film industry, Lola Kenya Screen is on the forefront to champion for filmmaking issues. Consequently, the Nairobi-based initiative that serves children and youth in the Horn, Great Lakes and Southern Africa is a member of the International Centre of Cinema for Children and Young People (CIFEJ), an organisation founded in 1955 under the auspices of UNESCO and UNICEF to promote excellence in cinema for children and youth. Lola Kenya Screen organises and presents Kids For Kids Festival Africa besides identifying with various local and international film initiatives.
In 2011, for instance, Ondego organised and hosted the ‘Nomination Night’ of the Africa Movie Academy Awards that brought more than 500 delegates from across Africa and the Diaspora to Nairobi.
Lola Kenya Screen has since 2006 been showcasing the best possible international productions for children and youth in Nairobi every second week of August. During this time of the year selected participants are given a chance to experience filmmaking, cultural journalism, creative writing, film criticism, media literacy and event planning & presentation through special, learn-as-you-do mentorship initiatives led by local and international experts specialising in issues related to children, youth,film, mass media, culture and development.
The sixth edition of Lola Kenya screen is scheduled for August 8-13, 2011 at the Kenya Cultural Centre/Kenya National Theatre in the Nairobi CBD. The hugely popular skill-development mentorship programmes that form the centre piece of the festival will introduce screen-writing and screen acting to participants. The festival that has become a permanent fixture on the calendar of many film lovers will exhibit more than 250 films from 102 countries.
And, yes, you can follow the progress of Lola Kenya Screen online: lolakenyascreen.org, facebook.com/LolaKenyaScreen, twitter.com/LolaKenyaScreen, and youtube.com/Lolakenyascreen