Top award for film shot in Rift Valley

Monday January 17 2011

Photo| Correspondent A scene at a makeshift hospital scene during the filming of the movie ‘In a better World’ at Kikopey near Gilgil.

Photo| Correspondent A scene at a makeshift hospital scene during the filming of the movie ‘In a better World’ at Kikopey near Gilgil. 

By TIM KAMUZU BANDA [email protected]

Even if you watched the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, chances are that you missed the magical Kenyan connection to the world’s most prestigious TV and film awards.

The film, In A Better World, which trounced four others to win the Best Foreign Language Film was not only partly shot in Kenya, but also featured Kenyan actors.

In fact, the preview that was screened to the audience at the glamorous red-carpet event was actually the Kenyan scene.

Written and directed by Sussanne Bier who is Danish, the film depicts the lives of two Danish families with an extraordinary friendship.

Anton is a doctor with his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and works at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness.

The African Refugee Camp was shot in Kikopey, near Gilgil. The filmmakers were looking for an ideal place in Africa when they contacted Jenny Pont, the Director of a Pontact Production — Kenyan-based Production Service Company — for advice.

“They had wanted to recreate a hospital scene in Africa and we advised about Dadaab camp. However, as we were driving towards Elementaita, they saw Kikopey and the producers found it the most ideal,” says Ms Pont.

She explains that the place was good because it had IDPs who had bought land on their own and were beginning the process of resettling. It is immoral for a film to be shot in an area where people are actually suffering.

For three weeks, the filmmakers built a makeshift hospital in Kikopey which was extensively used during the week-long shooting in November of 2009.

The main actor and actress are Mikael Persbrandt as Anton and Trine Dyrholm as his wife Marriane. It also features actor Eddy Kimani as Laege who is Anton’s driver and security officer at the medical camp.

There is also Gabriel Muli as Tolk, June Waweru as a patient, Evans Mothini as a rebel leader and a dozen other Kenyan actors as part of the cast.

More than 700 people were hired as extras and numerous casual workers. After the filming, material from the makeshift hospital was donated to the community to build houses. The filmmakers also built classrooms for a school in the area.

“The area benefited, but the biggest beneficiary was the country and the actors for providing the scene and also the services in a globally award winning film,” says Ms Pont.

Eddy Kimani, who sat at night to watch the ceremony, says that being part of a globally recognised film is the dream of any actor and already, he has landed another role in a film to be shot later this year.

Prospects are promising for the Kenyan casts as the film is also Denmark’s entry to the Oscar Awards, whose nominations will be held on 26th of this month.

The Golden Globe Awards is an accolade presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to recognise excellence in film and television.

The 68th awards were at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.