By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published February 22, 2015
East Africans who have often wondered how judging panels for creativity at festivals in the region are selected now have the opportunity to not only learn how this is done but to also get invited as judges to sit on these panels.
This is made possible by East African Film Network (EAFN), a regional civil society that champions social and economic development of East African Community through Motion Pictures, Cultural Identity, Media and the Arts.
EAFN is a grassroots, country-based regional network with a vision for empowering practitioners in the creative and cultural sectors of the East African Community partner states: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
For the first time, the region, in the framework of EAFN, has sent out a call for jury members from among the local players in the creative and cultural sector. Those selected from among the applicants for consideration shall form the Fiction, Documentary and short film juries for the Best East African Film Award to be presented during the 7th annual International Film Festival of Burundi (FESTICAB) in April 2015.
This move gives local players the chance to not only set the agenda but also shape the future of the movie sector. This can also be interpreted to mean the East Africa Community is on its way to forming its own film hub that is made by the people and for the people themselves.
Individuals interested in serving on these three juries are required to send their application—Cover Letter, Curriculum Vitae, Motivation—to their respective EAFN Country Representative by February 28, 2015.
EAFN has also sent out a call for EAC filmmakers to submit their recent and representative works to FESTICAB. These, once again, are to be channeled through EAFN Country Representative of each of the five EAC-member states by February 28, 2015. Each state shall hand in six—2 fiction, 2 documentary, 2 short—films for competition.
This opportunity offers an international platform and audience to local films which, previously, would not have had this opportunity of viewership and exposure. This goes in line with one of EAFN’s objective which is to enhance the value of film in the region and expose, by making known the various talents and professions that exist in the region in the field of filmmaking.
The spotlight on the films made by East Africans also comes with the opportunity for the filmmakers to learn from one another in the region, understand the issues affecting the region and to express these issues through the medium of film.
By bringing together players in the motion pictures sector, festivals are helping to open up the region for possible networking and co-production arrangements.
With the formation of EAFN in March 2014, the East African film practitioners have the chance to better themselves and grow in the industry because there is the benefit of an organization that is exclusively committed to the growth of the industry in the region.
EAFN has so far collaborated with its founding member festivals–FESTICAB in Bujumbura, Zanzibar International Film Festival in Zanzibar, Arusha African Film Festival in Arusha, Nile’s Diaspora International Film Festival and Lola Kenya Screen in the training of screenwriters, short filmmakers, acting for film, documentary filmmaking and cinematography, respectively, over the past nine months. It completes its first cycle of capacity-building workshops in March when it brings East Africans together at the inaugural Mashariki African Film Festival in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, for a Sound for Film training.
An equal opportunity network, EAFN sends out calls for eligible candidates–participants and trainers—to apply for consideration for any available capacity-building opportunity.
Among other factors, eligibility for accessing the opportunity includes the active participation of the candidate in the candidate’s home country’s creative and cultural sector. EAFN is interested in building team players, not lone rangers. The critical mass required to turn the fortunes of EAC around shall come from collective, not solitary, engagement of players.
Even with the chances for self-improvement provided by EAFN and her partners, EAFN Country offices still face an uphill task as players have to be persuaded and cajoled for them to register their interest. Believe it or not, none of the five EAFN Country offices has received any film or application for jury service. And the deadline for application is just six short days away!
EAFN Country Representatives are: Pappy Jamaica (Burundi Cinema Centre, Bujumbura, Burundi); Ogova Ondego (Lola Kenya Screen, Nairobi, Kenya); Tresor Senga (Mashariki African Film Festival, Kigali, Rwanda); Mary Birdi (Arusha African Film Festival, Arusha, Tanzania) and Phad Mutumba (Nile’s Diaspora International Film Festival, Kampala, Uganda).