With film stakeholders still facing a tough climb in making sure that the Kenyan film industry lives to its potential, many are optimistic that good tidings lie just around the corner. The industry has seen several awarding events such as Riverwood Awards, Kalasha Awards and the recently re-launched Machakosfest.
Talking of Machakosfest, it is an annual short film festival running under the Machawood banner. All these have given the much needed confidence jab to the industry and seemingly the stakeholders have something to smile about. While there have been many complaints about winners in all these awards not getting any monetary value attached to the trophies, the tide is already turning. During Machakosfest re-launch and nominees unveiling on Wednesday last week, Machawood CEO, Victor Muniafu, revealed that all winners will be smiling all the way to the bank.
“The best film will walk away with Sh1 million, first runner-up Sh500,000, second runner-up Sh250,000 and Sh100,000 for the third runner-up. Winners of various categories of excellence in film such as the best actor, best actress and best cinematographer, among others, will each get a Machakosfest trophy, while the participants get a certificate of participation,” he said.
To enter, the festival requires participants to interpret a given theme by filming part of the film in Machakos county, with the film being not longer than seven minutes. The third edition of the film festival has attracted 50 entries.
“At the moment, there are efforts to make the buzz at the grassroots bigger. We need to get these stories out there and it is not rocket science that start-ups can’t fight the big boys in the capital. However, for things to work, we need political goodwill as the county systems are full of bureaucrats,” says Machakos Creatives chairman, Edward Wiltons.
The national government has been on the receiving end for quite a long time, with several agencies mandated with safeguarding the film industry being put on the firing line.
“The Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) has rolled out Sinema Mashinani to assist with film regulation, nurture talent and promote the creation of films at the grassroot level in order to celebrate Kenya’s cultural diversity,” says KFCB CEO, Ezekiel Mutua.
According to Mutua, Kenya’s entertainment and media market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of eight per cent to hit the Sh300 billion mark in 2020, with a huge chunk of the revenue going to the counties.
Cyrus Mwalili, a filmmaker and director of short film, Run, is of the opinion that grassroots festivals such as the Machakos Film Festival would go a long way in nurturing talents in schools.
“I believe such festivals as Machakosfest are doing some great job in trying to tap new talents in our children. This has actually been actualised by the fact that students from Lukenya Academy IGCSE were the backbone in developing Run, including its scripting, production and editing. We hope such initiatives will engrave a filming culture in schools,” says Mwalili.