What is Lola Kenya Screen?
Lola Kenya Screen is an audiovisual media movement that seeks to place production tools in the hands of children and youth for the advancement of ideals such as literacy, gender equity, self expression, and democracy through moving images. Lola Kenya Screen comprises a skill-development programme in film production, creative journalism, media literacy, event organisation & presentation and creative appreciation on one hand and a film exhibition and an audiovisual media platform for marketing, promoting and distributing audiovisual media content and other products and services targeting children, youth and family on the other.
Lola Kenya Screen equips children and youth with the skills to understand, appreciate, and create high quality mass (usually audiovisual productions) media content.
What is the history of Lola Kenya Screen?
Having worked as an arts and culture journalist, jury member at international art, culture and film festivals, volunteer and coordinator of the African Cine Week of Nairobi and having trained in the organisation and management of audiovisual media markets and festivals, Lola Kenya Screen founding director Ogova Ondego saw too many yawning gaps in the audiovisual media sector in Kenya that needed to be filled in but for which few people were willing to do something about.
So, out of protest, Lola Kenya Screen—Kenya’s very first truly international film festival—was mooted in a nondescript hotel on Tom Mboya Street, Nairobi, one afternoon in October 2005. A month later, it was launched in Cape Town in South Africa, held its first monthly Lola Kenya Screen Film Forum at Goethe-Institut in Nairobi in December 2005, and the first annual Lola Kenya Screen festival held in August 2006 at Goethe-Institut and Alliance Francaise in the Nairobi central business district.
What is the rationale for a film festival for just children?
Children are agents of change. Lola Kenya Screen is a global movement that seeks to entrench in Kenya and eastern Africa the culture of making and consuming high quality audiovisual media productions that bring about socio-economic development. The present and the future belong to children and only they can shape it; if they are well prepared for it by visionary and competent mentors. Lola Kenya Screen fits the billing.
Is Lola Kenya Screen the only children’s film festival on the African continent?
Lola Kenya Screen is the only audiovisual media initiative in Africa that is exclusively designed for children and youth, i.e. children and youth are the focus and not a side bar at a larger general or adults’ film festival. It is the only festival that is organised, presented and celebrated by children and youth who make films through the film production workshop, report on the festival through the children’s press, present the programme through children’s event presentation, and award prizes through the children’s jury.
Who funds Lola Kenya Screen?
Lola Kenya Screen is looking for funding. The first, second and fifth editions in 2006, 2007 and 2010 were supported–not funded–by the Creator of Creativity, ComMattersKenya, ArtMatters.Info, ArtMatters Critics Guild, Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, Goethe-Institut, Danish Film Institute, Prix Jeunesse and Africalia. Lola Kenya Screen also received some support from Alliance Francaise of Nairobi in 2006.
How much does it cost to present Lola Kenya Screen?
A truckload of willpower, volunteerism and determination. If everything were to be funded, it would cost an estimated US$90,000 or 70,000 Euro in kind and human resource to put together a single edition of Lola Kenya Screen. But are we getting anywhere near meeting this budget? Hardly. All the festival staff—from the director to the programme presenter—volunteer their service on a labour of love kind of arrangement.
How many people attend the festival?
The attendance grows every year from 800 in 2006 to 4600 in 2010.
What major problems does Lola Kenya Screen face?
The greatest challenge is no doubt lack of funding. Without adequate funding, Lola Kenya Screen cannot hire staff, bring in film directors, or present worthy awards to people whose audiovisual media work excel at the festival.
Tell us something about Lola Kenya Screen’s membership in the global International Centre of Film for Children and Young People, CIFEJ.
Operating on the African communal spirit of ‘I am because we are’, Lola Kenya Screen seeks out individuals and organisations who share her vision to achieve her aims. One such body is the International Centre of Film for Children and Young People, CIFEJ. Through her membership in CIFEJ—an organisation founded in 1955 under the auspices of UNESCO and UNICEF to promote excellence in cinema for children and young people—her family network is both enriched and expanded. And her capacity and credibility, too, are enhanced.
You hold annual production workshops and produce films from them. You produce films annually. How are they received? What are some of the places you have screened them?
Lola Kenya Screen is not just another cultural film festival that showcases films made by others for our consumption. Rather, it is a production workshop, market, and film festival all rolled into one. During the inaugural film production workshop in 2006, Antonia Ringbom of Finland facilitated an animation workshop with 10 children aged 10-15 years. They made FILMS BY CHILDREN FOR CHILDREN, a nine-short film compilation that was shown in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Berlin, Gdynia, Goree Island, Kampala, Kigali, Zanzibar and Nairobi besides other venues in France, Belgium, Brazil, The Netherlands, and Congo-Kinshasa. Our second production, a three-film and three-song compilation realized through the mentorship of Maikki Kantola of Finland in 2007, was perhaps the most successful of all films made at Lola Kenya Screen. It screened across the world where it received numerous accolades and awards. The third production, too, was quite successful as it earned several Africa Movie Academy Awards nomination. Made in 2008, the tutor was Dr Eid Abdel Latif of Egypt.
How is a film workshop coordinated; during the festival screening or after?
The production workshop runs concurrently with the other activities—performing, visual, literary and screen arts; screening of films; 9.00 am-4.00 pm daily.
Tell us about Lola Kenya Screen winning the grand prize at the Kids for Kids Africa/5th World Summit on Media for Children.
FILMS BY CHILDREN FOR CHILDREN beat 50 films from 20 African nations to the Grand Prize at the Kids for Kids Africa/ 5th World Summit on Media for Children in Johannesburg, South Africa, in March 2007. This win gave FILMS BY CHILDREN FOR CHILDREN a direct entry into the international Kids for Kids festival and free distribution worldwide by CIFEJ.
You aim to establish a film resource centre. Tell us about it.
The envisaged Lola Kenya Screen film resource centre—that is now shaping up through international collaboration—will be stocked with audiovisual media information and equipment to benefit students, scholars, researchers, journalists and other seekers of information.
Lola Kenya Screen is the only film festival for children in eastern Africa. What is the future for such festivals entirely dedicated to children and the youth?
The future can only be bright for child-focused festivals like Lola Kenya Screen. Lola Kenya Screen is poised to become the reference point besides entrenching the high quality filmmaking and consumption culture in Kenya and in eastern Africa.
Does Lola Kenya Screen incorporate any mobile cinema feature in its screenings?
Yes. Our mobile cinema is done in learning institutions—primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and other venues, including neighbourhoods across the breadth and width of Nairobi and its environs. With the support of Africalia of Belgium, Lola Kenya Screen conducted a highly successful Cinetouile mobile cinema in 2010.
Some critics have questioned the role of film festivals; some have said that film festivals compromise on matters of quality. What do you think of this?
Lola Kenya Screen is not just another run-of-the-mill film festival but one that sets standards in quality. Our festival is run by professionals trained in film appreciation and criticism, filmmaking, and festival management. We take quality seriously and will not compromise for whatever reason. We may be just five years old but no festival in eastern Africa receives and showcases as many international films as we. We have so far screened more than 1750 films from 98 countries between 2006 and 2010. We do not screen just about any film simply because it has been submitted to us, though. It has to meet our standards in terms of theme, cultural relevance and sensitivity and production standards. Try us.
What’s this Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship that Marks its 10th year in 2014?
The Lola Kenya screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme came into being in March 2005. It was initially offered under ArtMatters.Info (under whose umbrella Lola Kenya Screen was founded and operated till 2009!) with the aim of helping entrench arts criticism and appreciation in eastern Africa.
Where do the beneficiaries of the Lola Kenya screen Skills-Development Programme come from?
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme so far have been students from University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Maseno University, Uganda Christian University, Kampala International University, Daystar University, Nairobi Film School, Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Tangaza College, Kenya Polytechnic and Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
What specific disciplines does the Lola Kenya Screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme focus on?
Subject to availability of resources, we continue to offer a 7-12-week Internship Programme every three months to out-of-school and final year students of Communication, Information and Mass Media (Journalism, Mass Communication, Creative Writing, Public Relations, Video/TV Production, Web Development/Graphic Design) and related subjects.
How does the Lola Kenya Screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme prepare participants?
Participants in our 12-week programme get the chance to conceive and implement projects through our hands-on, learn-as-you-do mentorship as they work on our cultural journalism, video production, event planning and presentation, critical appreciation and media and information literacy projects.
From what specific Lola Kenya Screen platforms do interns/mentees train?
Our daily cultural journalism and public relations, weekly school outreach, fortnightly mobile cinema, monthly film forum, quarterly internship and annual festival programmes offer ready platforms on which to gain these much needed skills in Kenya’s exam-focused education system.
How does one get into the Lola Kenya Screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme?
A candidate has to apply—including one’s curriculum vitae and motivation with an introduction/request from school—to be considered.
To whom does one send one’s application?
Aplications are sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Is the Lola Kenya Screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme available outside Kenya?
Over the years we have also extended our skills-development programme beyond Kenya to Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe and South Africa where we have helped equip participants with skills in areas as diverse as arts criticism, human rights, online publishing, and film and arts criticism.
How does the Lola Kenya Screen Skills-Development Programme in creative Entrepreneurship programme work?
We liaise with like-minded organisations in the development of guidelines on arts journalism, criticism, media and information literacy, communication, film production, event management, Public Relations, Video/TV Production, Web Development/Graphic Design) and related areas.