Students eye piece of the movie pie
Posted Friday, June 1 2012 at 22:30
When Dr Simon Peter Otieno approached the Ministry of Education over a movie project, he was a bit nervous.
He wanted to start a film category in the Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festival and was not sure how the idea would be received.
The ministry approved the project, and a pilot programme was carried out.
Schools were allowed to produce movies using students and teachers as the cast. Dr Otieno and the organisers expected about 16 films. They got 37.
The idea was a big hit among schools.
The Kenya National Film Festival was last weekend inaugurated in a colourful ceremony at the University of Nairobi.
Hundred of students and producers packed the 8-4-4 Hall at the university’s main campus to witness the event.
“Today, we have launched a revolution in Kenya’s film industry,” said Dr Otieno, who teaches theatre and film at the University of Nairobi’s Department of Literature.
The best films in the pilot programme were shown that day. They included Elimu Academy’s Time, which was the winner in the primary schools category.
Actors in Lions Primary School’s movie, Benji, received a standing ovation.
Benji was not the winner in the national film contest, held earlier this year as part of the annual Kenya Schools and Colleges Drama Festivals.
The adjudicators placed Benji second, to the chagrin of the audience. The film had a good script. The actors, production and editing was superb.
Chogoria Girls High School presented A Time to Cry, a well scripted and acted movie that would make the amateur students and teachers proud.
Kenya Institute of Mass Communications movie also screened Conflicting Success, which was the winner in the colleges category.
Dr Otieno does not have kind words for the existing Kenyan film industry. He says most local productions are shoddily done.
They lack direction in terms of scripting, directing and editing, he says. That is why local movies cannot stand up to those from Nigeria and Mexico.
The way to go, says Dr Otieno, is to start training young actors. By nurturing actors from schools, the film industry’s future will be promising.
This was evident by the quality of some of the films that were screened last Saturday, says Godfrey Njenga, the film coordinator at State House Girls High School.