Friday, June 27, 2008

Where are our movies, Project Nollywood?

About a year ago, ten Kenyan artistes traveled to Nigeria for a two-week training program in movie making facilitated by Mnet Africa, Kenya Film Commission and players from the thriving Nigeria Film Industry, famously known as Nollywood. Ideally, the participants were expected to draw from the knowledge of their Nigerian counterparts and on return to share their experiences with local colleagues with whom they would then collaborate to develop our fledgling industry.

It has been silent since they returned and I’m sure quite a number of artistes are at a loss what to make of it. Is there anything cooking in the studios or was the trip for the personal benefit of the ten artistes only? Even so, what have they been up to since? Our Riverwood, or whatever ‘wood’ we shall baptize our version of a movie hub, will certainly not thrive out of stealthy, publicity-starved production processes.

At the launch of the project, lots of sweet-sounding goals were made by the Kenya Film Commission. It pledged to support the group translate their knowledge into tangible productions upon return and even promised to host workshops where they would disseminate acquired skills to other players in the field. Well? Are we waiting for Godo? I cannot guess by what means the Commission intended or intends to notify the country-wide enthusiasts of these activities when their website was last updated at the launch of the project. This is a sad indictment for an organization whose mandate is ‘to make Kenya a centre of film production’. It is doubly sad, especially given the goodwill and resources from Mnet Africa and the Nollywood veterans.

Indeed Mnet Africa has been at the forefront of promoting Nollywood productions through the DSTV Africa Movie Magic channel. They have recently launched an extra channel, Africa Movie Magic Plus, to showcase productions from East and Central Africa. This is an excellent marketing opportunity for our movies which we might just lose as we continue waiting for Godo. Already, the earlier movies from Kenya like Backlash, By Any Means Necessary, Clean Hands and Wangai’s Cross have been run severally alongside those from Tanzania, Uganda and the Central states. After years of whining about lack of exposure, this is certainly a good time to put our act together and churn out those movies.


Acolyte said...

I would say the prohibitive cost of audio visual equipment in Kenya has a role to play in this, taxes and tarrifs need to be slashed!

HLumiti said...

True Acolyte, the kind of agenda that KFC ought to be fronting. But do they speak? You'd be surprised that the KFC management has some of the cream of Kenya theatre. The same folks who are constantly crying for an enabling environment now have the mandate to execute. But do they? Perhaps playing victim is cozy.

By the way, I was in your part of the world... Chuma ngumu.

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Dark Angel said...

As a part of the film industry in Kenya, i would beg to differ on the above thoughts. Maybe in the past the management of KFC has been selfish, for a lack of a better word- bastards more concerned with filling their pockets than developing the industry, the new KFC CEO is one with a vision. I have sat with him in meetings with top Hollywood producers as he tried to market Kenya as a filming location more attractive than SA and it is not an easy task. The government does not look at the film industry as a revenue generating industry and does not recognize it at all. Only a few months ago has the government agreed to waiver the customs bond of $500 payable when bringing in filming equipment, which calls for another $500 for the clearing agent. I would stand in his defense and say that he is doing all theta is humanly possible to make the government recognize the industry.

HLumiti said...

Thanks Dark Angel,

Marketing Kenya to Hollywood producers is one of those tasks that KFC says it has been doing over the years and obviously they haven't been overly successful. I'd even say it has been wasting effort as Hollywood is not particularly charitable to 'strangers'. I'm thinking that energies (and resources) would be better spent in boosting the capacity of the local producers. I'd rather that the local movies do the marketing of Kenya.

Nollywood Watch said...

I honestly think the trip to Nigeria is not wasted. It really takes time to have things mature. I can adduce that the participants are still trying to digest all they have taken in.

Hopefully with your support and that of all lovers of Theater and film in Kenya; your dream of a homegrown film industry will materialize.

We at Nollywoood Watch is wishing Kenya the very best.

HLumiti said...

Nollywood Watch,

Thanks for the visit and the encouragement to our movie guys. We here wish them lots of success too, seeing for how long they’ve been seeking opportunities for exposure.

But it has been a whole year since they visited Nollywood and maybe they’re just having a serious bout of indigestion. They are some of our best talent in the field and having heard that they managed to make “Lost in Lagos” while there, we expected them to land here running. Now this hibernation of theirs is rather disquieting and if that is the going rate of (un)productivity, we might just have no film industry to talk about.

For goodness sake they are not even telling us what it is that they learnt there. You people must have lavished them with kola nut and plenty palm wine!

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