Our ninth annual celebration of children, youth, arts and culture through film shall bring participants from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to Nairobi for seven days of festivities from December 6, 2014.
Among the highlights of the festival whose theme is ‘Youth Culture and New Markets in East Africa’ shall be a hands-on film production workshop for children and youth aged 11-16 years; indoor and outdoor film shows, art seminars and exhibitions, and live performances; the third top level gathering of the regional East African Film Network (EAFN) and various networking meetings with various authorities in Kenya.
“Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is shaping youth culture and the methods used by young people to create, consume and share cultural and creative content like film, music and art,” says Lola Kenya Screen’s founder Ogova Ondego. “If children and youth are equipped with creative and professional skills, motion pictures present not just an economic and social opportunity but are also an empowering tool in the hands of children and youth across the East African Community region where 40% of the population is aged 14 years and under. It is crucial for this generation to be equipped with the skills to understand, appreciate, conceive, create and consume high quality, low-budget, culturally appropriate content that complements, enhances, entertains and promotes learning among them in the advancement of socially desirable ideals like literacy, gender equity, independent thought, human rights, environmental responsibility and global health.”
Ondego explains that it is crucial for children and youth to be equipped well to practise filmmaking gainfully as film is one of the most popular art forms among the generation of today and tomorrow.
Ondego, who also doubles up as managing trustee and creative director of the initiative says it is this fact that informs the need to hold a well structured and focused specialised workshop looking at how cinematography—camera techniques, lighting, sound and editing—support other elements of filmmaking to produce high quality content.
Arguing that talent alone without skills acquired from training cannot reach its full potential, Ondego says, “The essence of our workshop is to help train the East African videographer in cinematography as the aesthetics of filmmaking not only inform but often define the success and appeal of many films. It is the technical quality more than anything else that sets one’s film apart and can secure one access and audience in the film sector.”
Leonce Ngabo, Chairman of EAFN, says the Third EAFN Forum of the network that promotes socio-economic development, youth empowerment, cultural identity and regional integration of East Africa though the arts, mass media and film, “shall afford us the opportunity to deliberate on pressing issues that will move our region and movement forward. We shall also use the opportunity to promote and popularise EAFN to and among Kenyan authorities.”
Ondego says it has been a strenuously arduous journey for Lola Kenya Screen, the only platform on the mother continent that is specifically and exclusively designed for children and youth, getting through to the ninth annual edition.
“We are very thin on resources though our vision has expanded from a once-a year festival to accommodate weekly school outreach, fortnightly mobile cinema, monthly film screening and discussion forum, and quarterly internship besides special programmes in media and information literacy offered as per demand throughout the year,” Ondego says.
Upon our conception in 2005, one of our key objectives was the training of young, up-and-coming audiovisual media talents in fields such as screenwriting, cinematography, acting, directing and producing of films.
So far 265 children and youth across eastern and southern Africa have passed through our training while we have produced 35 short animation, fictional, documentary and experimental films by, with and for children and youth.
Besides our being cited as one of the best examples in children’s media around the world, our productions are winning accolades and awards globally: the Best Foreign Documentary Film at Kids Flicks in Australia, the Grand Prize at the 5th World Summit on Media for Children and Youth held in South Africa, Special Jury Prize at the 17th Jugend Medien Festival Berlin in Germany, and Best Short Animation Film and Best Short Documentary Film at Africa Movie Academy Awards in Nigeria…
Besides our own productions being shown virtually all over the world, we have through our own annual festival showcased more than 1950 films in all conceivable genres, formats and lengths from 102 countries.
Our monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum (LKSff) that has since 2005 been presented by ComMattersKenya/ArtMatters.Info in collaboration with Goethe-Institut, had by November 2014 not only showcased 130 films from 16 countries to 7213 participants, but had also stamped its authority on Nairobi’s arts calendar as the longest running and most consistent film latform in the Kenyan metropolis: LKSff is a platform for networking, publicity and marketing of ideas, services and audiovisual media content. In fact, it is the entry point for international productions into eastern Africa.
LKSff also exposes filmmakers to the opportunities that are available outside their knowledge and also boosting their skills by facilitating their participation in training workshops through Lola Kenya Screen’s partner organizations and festivals.
The highly popular hands-on, learn-as-you-do skill-development programmes in cultural journalism, film production, event organisation, arts criticism and media and information literacy has enabled children and youth from countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Zanzibar, Kenya and Zimbabwe to identify and have their talents nurtured..
The fact that they attend these mentorships when they are still in their formative years, Ondego says, enables children and youth to test the waters of their career paths before plunging into the deep end of the swimming pool.
The 9th annual Lola Kenya Screen is supported by East African Film Network (EAFN), East African Community (EAC), ComMattersKenya, ArtMatters.Info, Goethe-Institut and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).