Lola Kenya Screen marks 5 years with critical writing and creative documentary workshops

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — The Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media movement for children and youth in eastern Africa held cutting-edge workshops in creative documentary film and critical writing at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi between November 29 and December 4, 2010.

Presented in the framework of the pan African Cinetoile African mobile cinema network, these workshops — that brought together 30 children and youth from Nairobi and its environs — also marked five years since the founding of Lola Kenya Screen as an audiovisual media festival, skill-development mentorship programme and market for children and youth in eastern Africa in October 2005.

The Learn-As-You-Do method

In the spotlight once more are the hugely popular learn-as-you-do skill-development method that has seen 142 children and youth from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe gain skills in creative and cultural entrepreneurship since August 2006; 61 have been trained in filmmaking, and 24 in creative journalism training, 11 in event planning and presentation, and 20 in critical appreciation (judging) of film. Additionally, 26 youth have been equipped with the skills to make television drama and documentaries for children and youth.

So far, 20 short animated films, 12 documentaries, and five dramatic films have been made by children and youth through the annual Lola Kenya Screen film production workshops while many talents from the writing workshops have joined the mainstream mass media organizations in the region.

The November/December training strengthened the creative and cultural sector of eastern Africa further by training many more practitioners and actors for the present and the future.

Outreach

Besides empowering children and youth, Lola Kenya Screen also equips adults working with youngsters with pertinent skills. The movement also promotes the screen culture through the monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum, school/community outreach mobile cinema and the annual Lola Kenya Screen film festival through which more than 1,750 best possible films from 98 countries drawn from all the six continents had been shown by August 15, 2010.

Sharon Mazviha Fortunate of Zimbabwe went through the experience of judging and awarding prizes to films at Lola Kenya Screen as a member of the Children’s jury.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the whole team for making it possible for a person like me to be part of the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media initiative for children and youth. I never thought I would one day fly, but I flew. I never thought I would sleep in a hotel, but I slept in one.

I spent an inspiring week at the festival meeting great and highly motivated people; tchildren’s films gave me the opportunity to express and share myself both on a personal level and a cultural level, reaching across borders and continents.

Tracy Muringa, a student at State House Girls’ School in Nairobi, Kenya, who has trained at Lola Kenya Screen in 2009 and 2010, says,

Reading about Lola Kenya Screen is not nearly as satisfying as the real experience. The various areas it trains children in are both educative and fun. The youth may look for fun in bad places but Lola Kenya Screen provides fun in a safe haven.

Bree Tonga Manuel of Zimbabwe says she learnt how to be serious and responsible in life from her experience at the third Lola Kenya Screen in 2008.

I learnt that if you want to get something done, especially in film animation and production, you have to be serious and responsible. I also learnt how to interact with other children from different cultures and backgrounds and I made many new friends, not only from Kenya but from Uganda and Tanzania.

Adede Hawi Nyodero, a student at The Kenya High School, Nairobi, is a regular participant at Lola Kenya Screen. She says,

Through Lola Kenya Screen, I have had the privilege to speak about children’s welfare and filmmaking on international radio and television networks that broadcast around the world; such networks include M-Net (Multi Choice) of South Africa, and Kenya’s Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and Africa Radio Service. I have also been featured in newspapers, magazines and several online (Internet) publications.

I feel that filmmaking can make a great impact in children’s lives and should be introduced in all Kenyan schools.

Craig Kimu of Zimbabwe went through the Lola Kenya Screen creative journalism training in 2008:

It was on a Sunday morning, the 11th of August 2008 when we departed the Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe for Nairobi in Kenya.

At first, I was shocked at the thought that it was really me who was going to Kenya for the Lola Kenya Screen film festival. It was a nice time meeting with other children, youth and adults from other countries. I learnt many things from them and so did they.

As children, we could speak openly about what life holds in filmmaking.

I’d never been in a plane before and that was my first time. I hope it’s not the last time.

I also want to thank them for raising the standard for my life.

As an empowering force for children and youth, Lola Kenya Screen gives exposure to children to interact with the world through international audiovisual media networks such as festivals, markets and awards.

Simon Onyango, a student at Jamhuri High school who participated in the Lola Kenya Screen film jury and DISCOP Africa Market, says of his experience:

I had never understood how filmmakers get back their huge investments. Thanks to Lola Kenya screen, I finally got to learn this after attending the fourth edition of the annual Distribution and co-production (DISCOP Africa) markets at Hilton Hotel in Nairobi.

I highly regard the existence of Lola Kenya Screen for the exposure that they have given me. If I had been shown I might have forgotten; if I had been told, I might not have remembered the exact words; but because I received the first-hand information and made some sense from it — I can never forget.

Partners

This training is offered by Lola Kenya Screen in conjunction with Africalia, Belgian Development Cooperation, European Union, ComMattersKenya, and ArtMatters.Info.

To achieve its goals over the past five years, Lola Kenya Screen has worked with visionary organisations and individuals across the world. They include –

  • Prince Claus Fund For culture and Development (The Netherlands)
  • Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA (The Netherlands)
  • Africalia Belgium (Belgium)
  • Communications and UNESCO (France)
  • ComMattersKenya (Kenya)
  • Goethe-Institut (Kenya)
  • Danish Film Institute (Denmark)
  • Artmatters.info (Kenya)
  • DW-Akademie/Berlin International Film Festival (Germany)
  • Prix Jeunesse International (Germany)
  • Finnish Film Foundation (Finland)
  • Alliance Francaise (Kenya)
  • Embassy of France (Kenya)
  • Southern Africa International Film & Television Market
  • Sithengi/Cape Town World Cinema Festival (South Africa)
  • Michael Auret
  • The Cradle Children’s Foundation (Kenya)
  • and Kenya film Commission (Kenya)

Mentors

The following professionals have helped mentor children and youth in the various skill development programmes over the years –

  • Antonia Ringbom (Finland/Sweden)
  • Maikki Kantola (Finland)
  • Meikke Statema (The Netherlands)
  • Florence Sipalla (Kenya)
  • Signe Zeilich-Jensen (The Netherlands)
  • Eid Abdel Latiff (Egypt)
  • Duco Tellegen (The Netherlands)
  • Fina Sensada-Boixader (Spain)
  • Rut Gomez Sobrino (Spain)
  • Anette Tony Hansen (Denmark)
  • Emily Wanja (Kenya)
  • Wanjiru Kairu (Kenya)
  • Vincho Nchogu (Kenya)
  • and Ogova Ondego (Kenya)

Support Lola Kenya Screen

Lola Kenya Screen appeals for support from other well wishers in helping shape the destiny of Kenya, Africa and the world through mentoring children and youth. Any organisation or individual in any part of the world interested in sharing our vision and responsibilities to the present and future generations of young people in any way may contact the Directorate of Lola Kenya Screen through —

One may also follow the progress of Lola Kenya Screen at

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Suddhasatya Ghosh

Where Farmers Fear

BY SUDDHASATYA GHOSH. KOLKATA, INDIA (CINEMA MINIMA) — Vidarbha is a region in the state of Maharastra in India. Poor India, that is Bharat resides here for too long. This belt, which have mountain, river, plateau and plain, is consisted of mostly tribal peoples like Gonds and Korkus. Population distribution has been according to the topographical nature. Where it is steep and hazardous that is less populated and when river and fertile plain gives a comfort there is an increase in it. But the most important part of topography is soil structure. 75% of the land in Vidarbha has black soil which can be classified into three major categories like shallow black, medium black and deep black and rainfall is between 898.4 to 1314 mm annually. Coefficient of variability of rainfall is between 23-26% . This land has not developed in irrigation much and that has divided the pattern of crops. Well irrigated areas are small, but affords higher population (average of 150 persons per Km) who live by the support of Paddy agriculture . Cotton or millet crop supports the average of less than 100 persons per Km in less populated and less irrigated areas.

Cotton needs black soil. Once British colonial rulers had cotton from this land to the mills of Lancashire in cheap and made huge profit out of that. But the condition of farmers had hardly improved. Even after independence farmers were strangled time and again by the middlemen and money lenders. Various banks under the auspice of Indian government were supposed to support the farmers through loan for seeds, tractors or tilling means. But it almost remained in paper. Yet these farmers had continued their survival in a hard uncomplaining way. In the last few years situation had taken a dramatic turn. On 30th June, 2006 one Ramdas Ganpat Bhagat had committed suicide only to join his name in the list of more than 1600 farmers who died allegedly by being debt ridden. The then prime minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh was supposed to visit that region at that time.

Ramdas took that poison actually which India took under the Congress regime by signing GATT. Prime minister of now a days India, MR. Manmohan Singh, was finance minister then. He was earlier an employee of World Bank. He lead the triumvirate that includes Mr. Pranab Mukharjee and Mr. P.Chidambaram to open up India to neo-liberal policies. In today’s Congress regime too Mr. Mukharjee is finance minister and Mr. Chidambaram is home minister of India. Mr. Singh has excelled to the post of Premiership. Trio is active and India is waiting to face the onslaught of another open up process.

Chandan Bhaduri, a David from West Bengal has taken up to fight this Goliath with a documentary ‘Where Farmers Fear’. He had been to Vidarbha at that period when one after another suicide were taking place. He strenuously investigated the whole causalities and came to a conclusion that India’s so-called liberal economy is responsible for this. Cotton exporter India has been reduced to a mino by the import syndrome. India and other developing countries are yet to open up the interim markets of United States of America and his allies. They has failed till date to pursue these big states to stop subsidizing their farmers,  whereas they themselves had to stop it immediately after signing the treaty. In India banks are playing to neo-liberal dictates and are not providing loans to farmers in most possible occasions. Thus they are being thrown to the hands of vulture money lenders who squeezes a steep interest from them. Governments, as usual, deny this and Chandan’s penetration in the heart of this issue proves that the government is lying.

In a part of his documentary we meet a village which is for sell in it’s entirety. It has no water, no electricity, no food, no health-centre or care. It had lands that are dry now. It had failed crops and broken inhabitants. One of them is sitting idly on road whom Chandan encounters. He vomits all his bitterness in a missive missile attack. He has lost hope. He now does not regard any institution or good will. It all seems a farce to him. This could have been the case of another state of India too. In Kerala farmers were doing almost the same thing. Coffee, a cash crop, had ruined them due to lack of rain and governmental policies. But the state of Kerala under the commission of Mr. Prabhat Patnayak, an economist who is noted for his anti-liberal stand, had combated it successfully. The Kerala government of Mr. Acchyutanandan had waived crores of rupee loans from the sagging shoulder of distressed farmers. They were using psychologists to strengthen the nerves of depressed farmers.

The Maharastra government under the leadership of Mr. Sharad Pawar, who is India’s minister of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs, are sending so-called godmans to help farmers. This government is ready to provide outworldy solution rather than an actual one. Mr. Pawar and his party NCP (Nationalist Congress Party), a Congress ally, is backing government’s economical policies.  He himself is busy with the affairs of BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India) and is prompt to announce a bulky prize money to players who will hit sixes in T20 tournament of IPL (Indian Premier League). He had been accused by oppositions in number of occasions in Chandan’s documentary as being hand in glove with Monsanto Corporation, the giant seed company whose genetic engineering and its business is under suspicion worldwide. The region of Vidarbha is facing the consequences of his act too. Resistances in the local levels are growing, but yet not so strong to derail the whole process of so-called liberalization.

Chandan’s movie has been an witness to all these varied and valuable truths.He himself is a man who has a defect in his walking. But surely he walks with his head held high. He has the courage to hold the mirror to a naked king. When he met that lonely, bitter fellow in the village which is ready for an outright sell, he asked him whether that fellow is satisfied with the governance. The man is intoxicated with local and cheap variety of alcoholic substance. He barely can stand. But after another burst of missives he asked in a clear and penetrating manner, “How we will live brother!”

That is the question India, that is Bharat and not signing, is asking for decades and no body from the ruling class is paying heed to that. Chandan Bhaduri, with his often slow fade in and outs and dissolves and often quick cuts, jump cuts is carrying these questions to an illuminating human documentation. This movie is one of the strongest and honest documentary made in India in the recent past and kudos to Chandan for that.

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Lola Kenya Children's Screen Represents Kenya at All-Africa Film Awards 2009

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — Crystal Ndungwa Ndolo, Elaine Nesbitt and Adede Hawi Nyodero were barely six, eight and nine years old, respectively, when they each made their first film during the annual Lola Kenya Children’s Screen film production workshop. Though this would have looked like child’s play, their work was taken seriously and is now contesting for top awards around the world.

Samora Michelle Oundo, Nyodero and Crystal Ndolo are among 7 children (out of 17) aged 7-14 years who are representing Kenya at the 5th Africa Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria (March 31-April 6, 2009) where their films are competing for top prizes alongside those of professional adult filmmakers.

The other children in the Kenyan delegation to Yenagoa, the capital of the oil-rich Bayelsa State, include Charmaine Nyambura Ndolo, Charlene Ndinda Ndolo, Norrick Joseph Kangethe, and Joseph Kang’ethe Mwangi.

LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, a film on clever-by-half antics by Nyodero, Oundo and Karama Kilibwa Ogova (2007); MANANI OGRES on the importance of being vigilant by Joseph Hongo, Marcus Joseph, Norrick Joseph and Samuel Musembi(2007); and CHEPRONO on thinking before leaping by Joseph Miriri, Charlene Ndolo, Bree Tonga Manuel, Charmaine Ndolo, Mina Ogova, Triston Kayonga, Othman Bakar, Crystal Ndolo, Steven Miriri and Celestine Mwashagha (2008) are competing for the Best Animation Prize against films from Burkina Faso.

Although all the 17 Lola Kenya Children’s Screen filmmakers were invited to Nigeria, only seven can make it to the event as the majority are in school outside Nairobi or do not have national passports. The delegation, consisting of 20, leaves Nairobi for Lagos on March 31 for the AMAA ceremony that takes place on April 4, 2009. While in Nigeria, the delegation will participate in a weeklong cultural programme that will culminate in the awards ceremony.

Another Lola Kenya Screen production, SANTOS THE SURVIVOR, a documentary made by Rupinder Jagdev during the Lola Kenya Screen children and docs workshop in 2008, is competing for the Best Documentary (Short Subject) award.

Whereas LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS and MANANI OGRES were made under the guidance of Finnish tutor Maiki Kantola with the support of the Danish Film Institute of Copenhagen, CHEPRONO was made under the facilitation of Egyptian Dr Eid Abdel Latif with the support of Africalia of Brussels, Belgium.

SANTOS THE SURVIVOR, a film on how an orphaned child survives in Nairobi made under the guidance of Dutch documentary filmmaker Duco Tellegen with the support of the Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Centre of Films for Children and Youth (CIFEJ) and Kids for Kids Festival (KFKF) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, have just communicated that LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS has just made it to the list of finalists in the international KIDS FOR KIDS FESTIVAL. It is competing in the Animation 13-16-year-old category against Poor Joshua Verde (Australia), Mancipia (Belgium), Carta Animada pela Paz: Os Dois Lados da Favela/The Animated Charter for Peace: The Two Sides of a Shanty Town (Brazil), Peace of Mind (Canada), Sul Filo dei Diritti/Let’s Knit on Human rights (Italy), Corn in the USA (USA) and Perspective: The Chicago Trains (USA).

This film has done very well, having won the Most Creative Production award at Lola Kenya Screen (August 2007), the Grand Prize at 2nd Kids For Kids Africa (August 2008), Special Jury Award at the Jugend Medien Festival Berlin, Germany (May 2008).

LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS — like all other Lola Kenya Screen productions — has been screened on virtually all continents where it has won accolades and collected awards along the way.

More information about the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media initiative for children and youth in eastern Africa — including high-quality pictures for media use — can be downloaded from the media gallery at <lolakenyascreen.org/>.

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Lola Kenya Screen trains 86 children as filmmakers; shows 1,200 Films

BY OGOVA ONDEGO. NAIROBI, KENYA (CINEMA MINIMA) — Since 2006, Lola Kenya Screen — East Africa’s premier audiovisual media platform for children and youth — has showcased more than 1,200 films from 71 nations, representing all six continents in various genres, formats and lengths.

Lola Kenya Screen has added to eastern Africa’s creative and cultural spectrum — 31 child filmmakers, 14 journalists, 13 film judges, 7 MCs, 15 producers of television drama for children and youth, and 6 producers of documentary films for children and youth.

The Third Lola Kenya Screen (August 11-16, 2008), attracted participation from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Germany, Belgium and Holland. All participants came in to watch the wide variety of films from 56 nations and to be equipped with skills for making films, appreciating and judging audiovisual media production, presenting programmes and filing daily reports on the festival.

Established in October 2005 as a movement that uses appropriate and available technologies to deliver audiovisual media content that complements, enhances, entertains and promotes learning among the generation of today and tomorrow — children and youth — in the promotion of literacy, gender equity, independent thought, human rights, environmental responsibility and global health.

Through her programmes, Lola Kenya Screen explores, identifies and nurtures creative talent among children and youth in areas such as journalism, filmmaking, arts appraisal and appreciation, and organisation and presentation of cultural and creative events. This is aimed at equipping children and youth with the skills to understand, appreciate, and create quality audiovisual productions in particular and arts in general.

Lola Kenya Screen places production tools in the hands of children and youth for the advancement of literacy, gender equity, self expression, and democracy in their world through her production workshop, film exhibition, and audiovisual media platform for marketing, promoting and distributing films.

While the Festival Press is aimed at uplifting the standards of creative and cultural journalism in eastern Africa, the Production Workshop empowers children and youth to make at least five quality, low-budget, moving images per year. In 2008, this programme was made possible with the support of Africalia of Belgium.

Out of the recognition that unless adults are sensitised into creating for and with children, the aim of putting children and youth on the public agenda could become a cropper, Lola Kenya Screen 2008 also worked with practising filmmakers in the production of documentaries for children and youth. This was made possible with the support of the Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA of The Netherlands.

Programme Presentation, as the title suggest, empowers children and youth to organise and present events and programmes. Such children are usually in charge of the programme during the six days of the festival.

The Film Jury, on the other hand, seeks to inculcate in participants skills with which to critically appreciate and appraise creativity in general and film in particular. The jury members watch and award films in competition. The official Lola Kenya Screen Jury consists only of children and youth.

At the end of the six-day festival, HOPPET | LEAPS AND BOUNDS by Peter Naess — an 86-minute feature about two brothers who flee US-occupied Iraq of Sweden — beat a strong field of 24 well crafted, award-winning international films that competed in seven categories, to the coveted Lola Kenya Screen Golden Mboni Award.

Saying that HOPPET had spoken to their heart, the official jury, comprising four children from Kenya and Zimbabwe, described HOPPET as “hopeful. Despite their many struggles, the two boys finally achieve their goals and get to their final destination where they are re-united with their parents.”

SIRI RAJA SIRI | KING SIRI by Somaratne Dissanayake of Sri Lanka took the Silver Mboni.

RAJA SIRI RAJA, the jury noted, “is a funny, uncomplicated film about a village boy who overcomes the discouragement of poverty.” The star of the 88-minute film, 11-year-old Sirimal excels in his national examinations to join a star college in he city that other materially well off children can only dream about. Despite encountering lots of social and economic challenges, he succeeds.

SUBIRA by Kenya-based Ravneet Sippy Chadha stars a strong-willed 11-year-old girl who rebels against tradition to be as free as her brother who plays freely. It made away with the Bronze Mboni. The jury was impressed by the 12-minute film “about a Muslim girl fighting for her rights despite the tyranny of the conservative community she lives in.”

Giving the Best Documentary Award to JOURNEY OF A RED FRIDGE by Lucian Muntean and Natasa Stankovic of Serbia, the jury noted that it “shows us the life of many children in Nepal. It is about a 17-year-old boy who earns a living as a porter.”

MAX’S WORDS, a film by Galen Fott and Jerry Hunt got the Best Animation Film Award for what the jury described as “an inspirational and original film, with beautiful images. It is a truly surprising film!”

For “a film we found well-made in every aspect — story, sound and image,” the jury gave the Best Short Film Award to PORQUE HAY CASA QUE NUNCA SE OLVIDIAN | THERE ARE THINGS YOU NEVER FORGET by Lucas Figueroa. “The plot was humouristic and the end had a surprising twist that made us laugh.” This 13-minute film is set in Naples, Italy, in 1950. It shows boys exacting their revenge on for an unforgivable crime: The destruction of their football by a vengeful old woman.

HELLO SPRING, a lyrical and philosophical 7-minute film directed by Masoone Jafari of Iran grabbed the Most Experimental Film Award at a two-hour ceremony held at the Kenya National Theatre in the Nairobi central business district. “This film is a musical adventure with the message that we should not be obsessed with the way we look. We are perfect!”, the jury intoned.

The Child Rights Award went to QUAMAR | WORKING TO LIVE, a 24-minute film by Preeya Nair of India.

The jury said the film “shows the struggles of a girl being exploited by a shopkeeper where she works because she can’t count. She would like to go to school but her mother doesn’t think this is necessary for girls.”

For the second time since 2007 — when Films by Children for Children won the Grand Prize at the 5th World Summit on Media and Children/Kids for Kids Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa — a Lola Kenya Screen production took the Kids for Kids Africa prize at the 2nd Kids for Kids Africa held in the framework of the 3rd Lola Kenya Screen. The jury called it “a funny and educational film with a clear message that makes you just want to learn. It is a film for and by children.”

The film, LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS, was written, animated, shot, and directed by Samora Michelle, Adede Hawi NyOdero and Karama K Ogova during the 2nd Lola Kenya Screen film production workshop conducted by Maikki Kantola of Finland for Project Anima of Denmark in 2007.

Some eight films from Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe were in the 2nd Kids for Kids Africa Competition. They were UNCOVERING SECRETS OF THE WORLD by Mia Dupper of South Africa (2008); INGWAZI JIVE by Abigal Mlotshwa; FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY by Tinashe Maravanyika; NDAIFARA by Mercy Mafudze and Craig Kimu; OH MAMA by Thelma Maduma of Zimbabwe (made under the Postcards from Zimbabwe compilation [2006]); LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS by Adede NyOdero, Samora Michelle, and Karama Ogova; MANANI OGRES by Joseph Hongo, Marcus Joseph, Norrick Joseph, and Samuel Musembi; and THE WISE BRIDE by Alexandria Ngini, Aysha Satchu and Layla Satchu (2007).

Some of the resource people at Lola Kenya Screen 2008 were Signe Zeilich-Jensen, Duco Tellegen, and Meike Statema (Holland), Eid Abdel Latif (Egypt), and Florence Sipalla (Kenya).

Lola Kenya Screen 2008, held on the theme of “Peace-Building for a Sustainable Future”, attracted some of the best possible films for children and youth in the world from 56 nations.

Lola Kenya Screen accepts and showcases a film only if its content is creative and demonstrates artistic and technical mastery, speaks positively to children of diverse backgrounds and cultures and provides strong role models for both boys and girls.

Additionally, such a film is expected to be child-driven and the stories culturally authentic, timely, and of universal appeal.

Films and videos submitted to Lola Kenya Screen are made by, with and for children and youth rather than about children and youth.

The theme of Lola Kenya Screen 2008 was Peace-Building for a Just and Sustainable Future out of the realisation that tension and conflict are inevitable in healthy human relationships but that they need not result in the wanton destruction of life, property and livelihood.

Presented by ComMattersKenya in collaboration with Goethe-Institut in Kenya, Lola Kenya Screen 2008 was supported by Africalia of Belgium, and the Jan Vrijman Fund/IDFA of The Netherlands.

The next edition of Lola Kenya Screen, the fourth one, will run in Nairobi, Kenya, 2009 August 10-15. [ArtMatters.info]

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