By Jedidah Nguyo
Published February 27, 2015
A politician, unable to come to terms with his having failed to be elected to parliament, is more than eager to collaborate with a foreigner in carrying out a â€˜smallâ€™ task in the former’s own country. But as usually happens in games with high stakesâ€”politics and businessâ€”favours must be called in, blackmail employed and arms twisted where persuasion fails to yield results. Thus the stage is set for a diabolical drama that is set for screening and discussion in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on March 30, 2015. But before then, SEPTEMBER, this 54-minute fictional film that tries to cast light on the spectre known as â€˜terrorismâ€™, is competing for the Best East African Film Award in Kigali, Rwanda, March 9-14, 2015.
So who is behind this film and why does it sound like it is a re-enactment of the the terrorist attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 21, 2013, considering that even the attack in SEPTEMBER is set in a shopping called Eastern Mall situated along Mombasa Road in Nairobi?
To understand this, we go out looking for Mark Kaiyare, a 23-year-old script writer, actor and executive producer who appears to have set his focus on doing the movie business differently.
â€˜Humbleâ€™ and â€˜Determinedâ€™ are the words I would use to describe the young man seated before me and who simply says â€œI am a jack of all tradesâ€ besides stating, as a matter of fact, that SEPTEMBER has also been submitted to Africa Movie Academy Awards 2015 and Zanzibar International Film Festival.
DECEIT, an 11-minute suspense thriller centered on infidelity that resulted from his script, acting and production in 2013 was nominated for Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), an annual awards ceremony organized by South Africa-based Africa-wide pay-TV network, Multichoice, in 2014. It was also screened Durban International Film Festival, also based in South Africa.
Mark Kaiyare, who says he had always wanted to act, adds, â€œIt was only after completing my secondary school studies that I decided to follow my passion by joining Better Play Productions in Nairobi in 2010.â€™â€™
Kaiyare, who has also done an experimental short film called PSYCHO, says his first film projectÂ was DESCRIBE NAIROBI which he shot on cellphone and that went on to be nominated for Kalasha Film and Television Awards of the Kenya Film Commission in 2014.
â€˜â€™Before then,â€ he says â€œI had always written scripts but never showed them to anybody.â€
Kaiyare describes SEPTEMBER, that was screened at Century Cinemax theatres in Nairobi for a week as a film that explains what turns normal, law-abiding citizens into anti-establishment terrorists.
â€œWe wanted to look at the other side of terrorism; look at terrorists as human beings like me and you, rather than as bornÂ criminals,â€™â€™ he says, explaining that he usually shares the role of executive producer with Simon Chege while Mark Wambui usually directs. All three are 23 years old.
â€œWe decided to work together because we wanted to create a platform that we could use to express ourselves and showcase our talents as young peopleâ€™â€™ explains Kaiyare who, like many other filmmakers across Africa, have no formal training. “I developed an interest in film quite early. I used to watch films then research how they were made via the internet. I also found many tutorials on the internet from which I taught myself how to do several things related to film production.â€™â€™
Mark Kaiyare says his parents who were at first skeptical of his decision to become an actor as â€˜â€™most people donâ€™t believe that one can choose acting as a career,â€™â€™ are now fully behind him after his work started receiving recognition through nominations. They attended the premiere for SEPTEMBER, he says.
Commenting on the state of Kenyan movies, Mark Kaiyare says that there is growth which is evidenced by introduction of film-related courses in various institutions of learning, more television stations and channels and the fact that people are supporting Kenyan artists: â€˜â€™I know of people who make a living purely out of filmmaking,â€™â€™ he says.
Among the biggest challenges he says his team is faced withÂ is marketing and promoton. â€œWe lack platforms that we could use in informing people about our filmsâ€™â€™ he says.
â€œMy main work as an executive producer is to source for funds to finance the production of the films,â€ he says. â€œTo succeed in any role itâ€™s important for one to be led by oneâ€™s passion besides learning as much as one possibly can about that particular area of specialisation.â€
What is Mark Kaiyareâ€™s formula of success?
â€œPatience, Perseverance, Persistence,â€ he says as the interview ends.