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Minky Schlessinger of South Africa with her 14-Plus Award for the best youth film

Why Lola Kenya Screen Focuses on Children and Youth

By Ekine Stronghold

Charles Shemu Joyah of Malawi (l) collects his 14-Plus award from Ogova Ondego
Charles Shemu Joyah of Malawi (l) collects his 14-Plus award from Ogova Ondego

Ogova Ondego, Managing Trustee of the Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, skill-development and marketing platform for children and youth in eastern Africa—while on a recent visit to Lagos—spoke to Ekine Stronghold of Nigeria’s Nollywood Television about the initiative.

Tell us about Lola Kenya Screen and how it impacts on the Kenyan film industry and Africa at large.

Lola Kenya Screen is an audiovisual media festival, skill-development programme and a marketing platform for children and youth in eastern Africa. It runs a weekly school outreach programme, fortnightly mobile cinema, monthly film forum, quarterly internship and annual film festival.

Lola Kenya Screen—that was initially created under the ArtMatters.Info cultural journalism arm of ComMattersKenya in 2005—conducts skill-development and mentorship in creative writing, critical journalism, event organization & presentation, critical appreciation of creativity, filmmaking and media literacy; runs weekly school outreach programmes, monthly film forum, annual film festival and fortnightly neighborhood mobile cinema throughout the year; manages a creative and cultural platform on which to promote and market ideas, services and products related to children, youth, family, media, information and literacy.

David Kinsella of Norway receives his award from Johannes Hosfeld of Goethe-Institut
David Kinsella of Norway receives his award from Johannes Hosfeld of Goethe-Institut

Lola Kenya Screen has helped equip 154 children and youth from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe with operational skills in creative and cultural entrepreneurship since August 2006; 73 have been trained in filmmaking, and 24 in creative journalism, 11 in event planning & presentation, and 20 in critical appreciation of creativity in general and film in particular. 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 eastern African region.
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 1,950 best possible films from 102 countries drawn from all the six continents had been shown by August 15, 2012.

The monthly film forum is aimed at critiquing, encouraging and exploring ways of integrating film production in eastern Africa with other socio-cultural and economic sectors in order to come up with a vibrant film industry. LKSff meets every last Monday of the month at Goethe-Institut, Nairobi. LKSff is often one of the first places where new films can be seen and young talent spotted.

That’s quite comprehensive; anything else you wish to say about Lola Kenya Screen’s novel approach to creativity? Why do you do focus on children and youth?

Minky Schlessinger of South Africa with her 14-Plus Award for the best youth film
Minky Schlessinger of South Africa with her 14-Plus Award for the best youth film

We started Lola Kenya Screen in 2005 to mentor children and youth in entrepreneurship and inculcate in them—the generation of today and tomorrow—new, sensitive and empathetic values to enable them take their rightful place in Africa’s creative and cultural sector; to think not of themselves as ‘us’ versus ‘them’. That’s why we equip them with the skills to understand, conceive, create, promote, distribute and consume high value content.

While our cultural journalism is aimed at uplifting the standards of creative and cultural journalism in eastern Africa, the filmmaking programme equips them with the skills to conceive and create films in Africa.

Critical appreciation inculcates in these ‘agents of change’ (why we specifically chose children and youth instead of adults!) the skills with which to critically appreciate and appraise creativity in general and moving images in particular.

Programme Organisation & Presentation (MC) empowers children and youth with the skills to plan and present events as professionals.

Media literacy equips our participants with the pertinent skills to understand the opportunities and threats inherent in modern mass media and with possible mitigation against the shortcomings through informed participation.

Through the above approach, we at Lola Kenya Screen are helping create a generation with sympathetic, empathetic and sensitive values to the creative and cultural sector of Africa. This new generation is unlikely to bash any initiative because they themselves have been trained as creative and cultural practitioners with vast knowledge on what it takes to conceive, create, promote and serve society.

Marco Gianfreda of Italy; he won the Golden Mboni Award for the best children's film in 2009.
Marco Gianfreda of Italy; he won the Golden Mboni Award for the best children’s film in 2009.

Though the participant may eventually choose to teach, make films, report as journalists, organise events or judge creativity after going through all our skill-development programmes, it is unlikely you will get a person so ignorant as to demand almost the impossible from fellow creatives as some of today’s reporters do. They think they make a name by merely criticising and destroying initiatives they least understand. Hey, man. We at Lola Kenya Screen are shaping our own future through the inculcation of new values in the creatives of today and tomorrow: our own children and youth. We can’t afford otherwise. Having understood and appreciated the sacrifices made in an evolving sector like ours, such creatives are expected to provide constructive criticism that builds and not destroys people and/or their initiatives.

About Lola Kenya Screen

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