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 ); 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]