After unveiling the nominees for this year Kalasha TV and Film Awards, Manuel Ntoyai sheds some light on one of the sprouting sectors within the film industry, animation
This year’s Kalasha TV and Film Awards saw more than 1,000 entries submitted to a jury of experts and had 140 nominees unveiled to compete in the 32 categories. Topping the list was the animation category that sought to find the Best Animation Production.
While animation is steadily growing in the country with companies now seeing some sense in doing their adverts in animated form, other countries such as South Africa have made tremendous growth in the industry.
Filmmaker, Peter Ogallo, was vocal on the subject intimating there is much to be done before the country can fully maximise the benefits of the animation world.
“Apart from the commercials we see, there are few corporates willing to invest in this industry. There aren’t many schools that teach it and less people backing it financially,” he shared.
Ogolla, went on to add filmmakers should also find new ways of telling unique stories about Africa.
The next step
Kenya Film Commission chair Chris Foot, echoed his sentiments saying “The animation industry has immense potential to grow. What we are doing as a commission is to help young animators with resources to help them tell their own stories.
For example, we need more animators to get into family shows done in Kiswahili because there is a ready market for it. With over 200 million Kiswahili speakers in the region, I can see a huge demand coming up,” he stated.
But it is not as easy as one might think as while more skilful young people are joining the industry, there are fewer resources to support them.
This has been a bottleneck for both filmmakers and animators.
Building capacities for filmmakers is a key element that the commission is banking on.
The big picture
“In order to achieve this, there is need for more partnerships at all levels, from the corporates world to the government. I encourage more creatives to use our resource centre at the commission while they seek alternative solutions. Again, we need more workshops and partnerships in providing resources and training filmmakers to be able to make a difference,” Foot added.
However, it is not as easy as one might think. Brian Tarus, whose animation, The Isolated, was nominated for this year’s award, says while there is a challenge for animators to tell their stories in local languages, most are self-taught from YouTube tutorials and there are some skills that they might miss.
“There has been a growing concern of animating characters that fit into the African context, which at times is hard and expensive. When we decided to produce The Isolated, not many would have expected us to do a horror/thriller because of the complexity, but we did it because we wanted to pursue something different,” he told Spice.
“It took us more than a year and six hands on deck to pull it through, and we are fortunate to be nominated. I know there are many more animators who can equally compete, but I want to believe that animation is going to grow to higher levels, as it has the potential of employing more young people,” he noted.
The way forward
To achieve this, the stakeholders are calling on the government through the Ministry of ICT, to put up incentives and laws that encourage budding animation productions and sheild them from direct competition from the established big boys, who like vultures are circling in on the emerging market. This, they hope will be done under the National Film Policy, which is undergoing consultations with stakeholders.
“By recognising our own level of excellence and the achievements of our film practitioners, we set benchmarks for future filmmakers and encourage the expansion of the industry,” noted the acting CEO for KFC Timothy Owase.
Some of the films earning multiple nominations include award-winning film Supa Modo, Disconnect, Subira and The Runaway, among others.