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Lola Kenya Screen staff stand in front of the auditorium of Goethe-Institut in Nairobi in 2007.

Looking Beyond Nairobi’s 100th Premier Critical Movie Meeting

By Iminza Keboge
Published June 18, 2017

Cultural inclusiveness at Lola Kenya Screen movie platform and skills-development and marketing platfor for children and youth in eastern Africa.As Lola Kenya Screen (LKS) presents its 100th bi-monthly Lola Kenya Screen film forum (LKSff) on June 19, 2017, Ogova Ondego, Managing Trustee and Creative Director of LKS speaks about what is in store for this movie platform for children and youth in eastern Africa in 2017 and beyond.

What is Lola Kenya Screen and why does it exist?
Lola Kenya Screen is a movie festival and skills-development and marketing platform focusing on children and youth in eastern Africa that seeks to integrating movie production with other socio-cultural and economic sectors in order to come up with a vibrant and sustainable motion pictures industry.

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How many films has Lola Kenya Screen produced with the youth since inception?
Though children and youth of Lola Kenya Screen have made more than 50 fictions, animations, documentaries and experimentals many of which have won or been nominated for prestigious awards–Jugend Medien Festival Berlin,Kids For Kids Africa, Africa Movie Academy Awards, World Summit on Media for Children–Lola Kenya Screen does much more than just produce movies. We equip children and youth with the skills to conceive, create, promote and consume high quality, audience-sensitive, culture-appropriate  content. With their skills, our children and youth are left to their own devices to do as they see fit in their families and communities.

Ravneet Sippy Chadha, director of SUBIRA short film at Lola Kenya ScreenAny notable directors, actors or production engineers as a result of over 10 years and 100 film forums?
Lola Kenya Screen, particularly its film forum, is often one of the first places where new films can be seen and young talent spotted.During the forum a selected short film is screened followed by an open discussion based on the production as pertains to universal moviemaking standards.The films exhibited and discussions arising from them are reviewed and published by ArtMatters.Info with a view to promoting the films; the stories are picked by film festivals, media schools and international funding agencies around the world; the articles are also picked by journalists and other mass media for reproduction. Most notable moviemakers–be it Judy Kibinge, Wanuri Kahiu or Ng’endo Mukii, or Kwame Nyong’o, Ian Kithinji or Jimmy Chuchu–have passed through LKSff.

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Movies by Mark Maina and Bruce Makau, for example, were picked from the Forum and went on to win Best East African Film awards; Wanuri Kahiu’s film was picked for the pan-African Cinetoile screening from Lola Kenya Screen; films by Kwame Nyong’o and Ng’endo Mukii have just been included in African Short(s) movie compilation; Ian Kithinji is now an award-winning moviemaker. Well, I suggest you speak to the people concerned to hear more about their experience with Lola Kenya Screen and its various programmes. You may also be interested in hearing more about the experience of Lola Kenya Screen’s primary audience: Children and Youth.

Lola Kenya Screen staff stand in front of the auditorium of Goethe-Institut in Nairobi in 2007.

Which schools and universities has Lola interacted with, with what impact?
Daystar University, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Multimedia University of Kenya, Technical University of Kenya, United States International University-Africa, Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Nairobi Film School. Ian Kithinji. from Daystar, is now an award-winning moviemaker; Firul Maithya, from Technical University, is a committed moviemaker; Daisy Okoti, from University of Nairobi, is a committed writer, critic and journalist.

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When did Lola Kenya Screen begin interacting with adult target audiences?
Since its inception in 2005. It is a movie platform for children and youth who belong to families and the adult world. Being a movie festival and skills-development and marketing platform, Lola Kenya Screen runs five programmes–school outreach (for children), mobile cinema (for communities comprising children, youth and adults), film forum (for adult practitioners), internship (for final year university youth) and movie and arts festival (for children, youth and families).
Lola Kenya Screen film forum, that has since its inception in 2005 been presented by ComMattersKenya/ArtMatters.Info in collaboration with Goethe-Institut in Kenya, brings together audiovisual media players—-filmmakers, actors, journalists, critics, writers, students, scholars, researchers, funders, event organizers, and policymakers–with a stake in the motion pictures sector.

Ian Kithinji speaks during Lola Kenya Screen film forumHow often does the film forum take place?
Took place every last Monday of the month between 2005 and 2016 when it went bi-mothly; it now holds every last Monday of every other month (

Why collaborate with FilmLab; what do you aim to achieve working with this collective, considering their wider (adult) audience (torture rated PG-16)?
The aim of Lola Kenya Screen film forum is to explore ways of integrating film production with other socio-cultural and economic sectors in order to come up with a vibrant and sustainable film industry. This can be done only through collaboration with stakweholderrs like Film Lab Kenya. The forum is for players–moviemakers, development partners, policymakers, investors, scholars, students–in the movie sector, not children.

What is store for Lola Kenya Screen this year, and beyond?
The journey is long. We are yet to meet our long term objectives:
a). To make the means of film production accessible to emerging talents;
b). To build an audience for African films by encouraging culturally relevant, audience-sensitive films in local languages, cultures and reality;
c). To promote film skills and develop talent in Kenya;
d). To produce at least six films each year from film production workshops;
e). To collaborate with national and international partners in the training of young talents who wish to further their expertise in screenplay writing, cinematography, art department, sound, acting, directing, and producing.

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Children making their models during the inaugural Lola Kenya Screen moviemaking workshop with Antonia Ringbom of Finland/Denmark in 2006 As we look forward to the annual movie and arts festival in December 2017, we hope to train more children and youth in moviemaking, event organisation, cultural journalism, arts criticism and make at least five well crafted movies for children and youth to be showcased during the festival and around the world thereafter. We are glad that the Lola Kenya Screen film initiative has been presented around the world as an example of ‘Best Practice’ in children’s programming, The adventure continues.

What have you learned in your journey with Lola Kenya Screen?
Running a charitable organisation that equips children and youth in creative entrepreneurship in a country like Kenya where the spirit of giving to charity is a ‘foreign’ concept is no walk in paradise on a Sunday evening. Here, people believe the West, not them, should ‘donate to African charities.This experience has stretched us to the limit but, like the Apostle Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 4:8, ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed’. Yes what does not kill you makes you stronger. I am also learning the meaning of ‘a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ through our long time partnership with Goethe-Institut, a German cultural orgamisation.

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