By Japheth Ogila
Published May 14, 2014
What starts as a delightful interaction of the characters transforms into a gloomy encounter, marked by the termination of young lives in mysterious accounts that leave you with more questions than answers.
That is the synopsis of BLINDSIGHT, a 51-minute film about the life of university-going youth that shall be screened and discussed at the 76th monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum (LKSff) at Nairobi’s Goethe-Institut on May 26, 2014.
Written and directed by Ian Kithinji whose 33-minute debut work, SPILT, was also showcased at the 47th LKSff and competed for the Best Student Film Award at the 6th annual Lola Kenya Screen festival in 2011, the young filmmaker appears to have come a long way since graduating from Daystar University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication.
The close-up shots used in the film capture facial and emotional expressions of the characters just as the background sounds of a church band at the preliminary stage of the film reveal an environment of Christian youth.
To ensure that the film has a wider appeal, it is sub-titled in English perhaps to take care of slang and a mixture of Kiswahili, English, Sheng and ‘youth expressions’ used by youngsters in Nairobi.
Kithinji writes best about hypocrisy, deceit, infidelity and mob psychology that is always detrimental to the minds of youth. BLINDSIGHT is a reflection of the wider Kenyan society as seen through the eyes of the youth.
Besides BLINDSIGHT, the 76th LKSff shall also showcase a film acted in Kiswahili and revolving around a 12-year old girl grappling with unchaining herself from cultural conformity and social expectations.
This 12-minute film is written and directed by Ravneet ‘Sippy’ Chadha. It was made in 2005 on the Kenyan Indian Ocean island of Lamu that is also a World Heritage Site.
The authenticity of the film as being set in Lamu comes through the sights and sounds of coastal Kenya: impeccable Kiswahili, taarab music, Swahili home, bui bui dresses, and the seclusion of adolescent girls for training.
The English sub-titles are short so as to avoid distracting the viewer from enjoying the film while struggling to read lengthy and laborious sentences. Could this partly explain why this childfare won the Bronze Mbooni Award for the third best children’s film at the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen festival in 2008? Chadha is currently developing it into a full length feature film.
SUBIRA shall be the third children’s film to feature in LKSff that introduced a segment for children’s films in its monthly programme in March 2014 with the aim of provoking and encouraging entrepreneurs to make films for children and youth. Other children’s films already showcased are 26-minute SAFI: LA PETITE MERE on the plight of an eight-year-old girl in the aftermath of her mother while giving birth by Raso Ganemtore of Burkina Faso (March 31) and 15-minute PETITE LUMIERE by Alain Gomis of Senegal on the a philosopher child (April 28).
“The aim of showcasing child-fare in our every monthly gathering starting from March 2014 is to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in films for children and youth, Lola Kenya Screen being a child- and youth-centred organization,” says Ogova Ondego who manages the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, skills-development programme and marketing platform for children and youth in eastern Africa under whose aegis LKSff runs.
The initiative of ComMattersKenya/ArtMatters.Info in collaboration with Goethe-Institut, LKSff is a specialised platform for practitioners in eastern Africa’s motion pictures sector that is held at Goethe-Institut every last Monday of the month throughout the year.
“LKSff is often one of the first places where new films can be seen and new talent spotted,” Ondego says. “LKSff is aimed at critiquing, encouraging and exploring ways of integrating film production in Kenya and eastern Africa with other socio-cultural and economic sectors in order to come up with a vibrant film industry.”