By Ogova Ondego
Published August 2, 2011
For the sixth time running, the annual Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, skill-development mentorship programme and market for children and youth in eastern Africa returns to the Nairobi Central Business District for six days of festivities during the second week of August.
Like in the previous five editions, Lola Kenya Screen-that is held on the theme, ‘Films for Enjoyment, Learning and Participation in the 21st Century’-shall equip children and youth with the skills to conceive, create, appreciate, promote and consume high quality mass (primarily, audiovisual) media content that is both appropriate and sensitive to the audience and cultures of a multicultural modern society at the Kenya National Theatre starting from August 8, 2011.
The 6th Lola Kenya Screen, that is scheduled to end on August 13, 2011, has strengthened her affirmative action approach to helping grow African and Kenyan media content for children and youth as manifested in sections such as Best Student Film, Best Film by a Child, Best Kenyan Film and Best Eastern Africa Film.
Also, in the framework of Lola Kenya Screen, special meetings for independent television and audiovisual media practitioners shall be held alongside the 5th continental Kids for Kids Festival Africa competition that lays emphasis on audiovisual media content made by children for children.
As ever, Lola Kenya Screen 2011 shall explore, identify, nurture and flaunt creativity among children and youth in filmmaking, journalism, creative appreciation, event organisation & presentation, and media literacy. This festival coincides with the acceptance of Lola Kenya Screen’s productions for competition in South Korea and Australia.
Lola Kenya Screen has not only made more than 32 productions over the past six years but has them out on the world film festival circuit. For instance, HAPPY TIMES, MANANI OGRES and SANTOS THE SURVIVOR have been selected for competition at the 6th Busan International Kids’ Film Festival in Busan, South Korea (August 12-16, 2011). Seven other Lola Kenya Children’s Screen productions are showing in the global Kids for Kids Festival programme, also at Busan.
LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS ‘Lola Kenya Screen’s most successful production’ has been selected for the Jump Cut competition programme of the 2011 Bayside Film Festival that runs August 17-20, 2011 at Palace Brighton Bay, Bay Street, Brighton, Victoria, Australia.
LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS that was made in Kiswahili in 2007 and reformatted for TV broadcasting with the help of UNESCO in 2010, has played on virtually every continent on earth. It was, for example, shown to more than 1500 girls and boys at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota, Colombia in December 2010. It has won many awards and accolades across the world where it has been screened. It is expected that more films with such success shall be made in 2011.
The Directorate of Lola Kenya Screen, arguably Africa’s premier festival that is exclusively designed for children and youth, is putting emphasis on interaction and networking among audiovisual media practitioners in 2011. For instance, all local filmmakers whose work is in the programme are encouraged to not just be present at the festival to interact with film lovers but to also invite their families, colleagues and friends to the celebration.
Among the themes running through the films in the 2011programme are the challenges of the world economic meltdown, the celebration of one’s family roots, the quest for freedom in all its manifestations, the ability to turn a bad situation into a blessing, and coming of age. Unlike 2010 when Lola Kenya Screen put a focus on the experimental film genre, the 2011 emphasis is on the documentary film that, the programmers say, ties in well with the festival theme, ‘Films for Enjoyment, Learning and Participation in the 21st Century’.
The 2011 festival is also expected to have lots of input from the local creative and cultural sector. The mentors lined up to impart skills and share experiences with the children and youth in the official skill-development programmes, for instance, are all drawn from Kenya unlike the previous years where these experts came from the North.
But just what are the skill-development programmes that Lola Kenya Screen offers and why do they target children?
These are practical, hands-on, learn-as-you-do training that seek to equip the generation of today and tomorrow ‘children and youth’ with the skills to manage their day-to-day living even long after the festival. For example, the children and youth who pass through these programmes take the skills they acquire with them back to school and to their communities. The skills acquired in cultural journalism or creative writing are expected to help boost the performance of participants in their class; for example, in writing English composition or Kiswahili insha or in just tackling any writing assignment. Those in filmmaking class also learn how to tell stories visually and help their communities in camerawork or videography during social functions like school prize-giving days, graduation ceremonies, birthdays or other celebrations that the communities would normally have to hire someone else to document. In short, the organisers of Lola Kenya Screen say their mentorship programmes are aimed at equipping children and youth with the skills for fishing for themselves instead of having to rely on someone else to provide them with the fish whenever they feel hungry.
Rather than having to point fingers at others for neglecting to have in place child-friendly media, Lola Kenya Screen further says she enables the children and youth themselves to take control of their own destinies by becoming their own creative and cultural entrepreneurs. They are expected to make their own films, write their own journalistic articles, organise and present their own events, and make sense of media content for themselves as part of their civic and democratic duty.
Since her foundation in October 2005, the Lola Kenya Screen community of media educators and practitioners has helped equip 154 youngsters from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zimbabwe with skills in filmmaking, film journalism and film criticism.
To ensure that her initiative is up to date and always relevant, Lola Kenya Screen is a member of various international professional organisations that specialise in issues related to children, youth, mass media, culture and development. Such peer institutions include 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’ and the Kids for Kids Festival community of filmmakers and media educators that promote films made by children for children.