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TAKE FIVE: Alice Kombani

Friday February 14 2020

Alice Kombani

Alice Kombani is an award winning filmmaker, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in film production. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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Alice Kombani is an award winning filmmaker, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in film production. Pillow Talk, a movie that premieres this weekend in cinemas countrywide, is her latest production. She has produced many other films, including 14 Seater, Shiru, Sunflower Oil and Angles of my Face.

1. You seem to believe that formal education is important for filmmakers. Why?

I am a perfectionist. I always aim to get better in my trade, and going to school helps me achieve this. Also, you get to learn a lot from interacting with classmates. Film is a collaborative art. My crew is hugely comprises my former classmates with whom I have so far done several projects. Film production is a relatively new course and there are very few thespians teaching it, so the classes are mainly theory-driven. I am going to school so that I can someday change this.

2. What is exciting about 'Pillow Talk'? Is it hard to find new actors in the local film industry?

Being involved in Pillow Talk was a really big milestone for me because it was my first time working as a director. It has been the biggest job I've held on set because in the past, I have only been a screenwriter and producer. The lead actors Emmanuel Mugo and Carol Muhugu were absolutely brilliant. Because the movie involves only two characters, the duo rehearsed for many months before the shoot, and they delivered an amazing performance.

It was so exciting to see it all unfold. The set was well thought out and the crew was immensely dedicated even though they were under strict instructions to ensure minimal interruptions during the shoot. As the director, I tried to provide the actors with an environment in which they could deliver. I held regular meetings with the crew and planned for every eventuality so that we could have an easy time during the shoot.


Kenya is full of talented actors. Going to film school also helps because I now know that there are about 300 new thespians joining the industry every year, and I know where to find them.

3. What was it like working with the writer of the movie?

Working with Charles Chanchori was so much fun, and it happened unexpectedly. One Sunday night, I put up a post on Facebook asking my friends and followers to send in short scripts, and he responded immediately. I read it, loved it, and scheduled for a meeting the next day. The rest is history. Important to note that Charles is quite rigid. I couldn't make any changes to his story.

4. What's your favourite movie?

The Lunchbox by Indian film director Ritesh Batra.

5. What's the last movie you watched and enjoyed?

Parasite, by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho. It is absolutely fantastic. Spoiler – they orchestrated a mighty, Noah-like flood in the film!