The revolution is here. It will not be televised. It will be on the silver screen. Of course we are not dead to the fact that it came too late, just let us, for now, look at the positive side; that it is finally happening. Our film scene desperately needed an injection of fresh-thinking, young and ambitious filmmakers to save the country from status quo long established and protected by the old guard. The old guard who’s target market is definitely not the urban Kenyan youth weaned on sophisticated western films, and who put out products only ambitious enough to cross county borders, never international ones. The introduction of relatively inexpensive public film schools seven years ago is now bearing dividends going by the buzz going on of works in progress and international awards and nominations among the new breed of ‘learned’ filmmakers starting to roll in and the future of Kenyan film is acquiring some glitter.
The Alice Kombani produced film Angles of My Face won the Best Short Film category at the 2015 Zanzibar International Film Festival. The production of that film was done by Kenyatta University students and this could be the first of many awards considering this was a debut both for Alice and the director, Manu. The organization around the production was commendable and it culminated in a glamorous premiere at IMAX Nairobi. Another former KU student, Biko Nyongesa’s short film Mizizi, is in the post production phase. This film gets an honourable mention here because it is both the most hyped and anticipated Kenyan film on social media, ever. The producers, OFL Group, have consistently kept the public informed on the production phases right from the beginning where they started with a script pitch fest (won by Jediliah Manga) ,to the current phase with a countdown to the trailer release on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The old order of recouping money entirely from selling copies or from the box office (for the very few that have made it there) has been upset. The OFL Group are into merchandise too and are now selling Mizizi t-shirts and who knows, they could get a significant amount of their cash back even before the film is out! These young people are putting the biz in showbiz. The fact that these high standards are being set by students and freshly graduated filmmakers has excited the industry with a much needed breath of fresh air. Bench marks are getting set here, both in the artistic and the business side and this should be an inspiring call to all young filmmakers: be innovative and creative in your art, and also in the ways of making money from it!