Apart from the Olympics, Kenya’s film industry is putting the country on the global map with refreshing choice sceneries that have been the desire of film makers world wide.
And so when the makers of Heart of fire, a chronicle of the moving and heart-stopping story of a seemingly hopeless childhood, decided to shoot in Africa, it was another feather on our cap.
Inspired by the book Heart of fire, authored by the Eritrean-born-German soul singer Senait Mehari, the movie breaks down the life of a young girl child soldier’s encounter as she is drilled to kill.
The film is set to premier at Nu Metro Westgate on Wednesday. However, the decision to shoot it on location in Kenya was not the initial idea.
“When the Ethiopian government refused to give us permission to film, we prepared to shoot in Nairobi, because Kenya is home to the largest community of Eritrean émigrés outside Eritirea,” says the film’s Italian director and scriptwriter Luigi Falorni.
Kenya has been leading ground to film makers since the 1950s when Men Against the Sun directed by Brendan J. Stafford was filmed in 1952. The movie is the adventure of building of the Uganda Railway at the turn of 19th century. Naturally, it features man-eating lions.
On more occasions, Kenya has played home to documentaries and short films rather than feature films.
And you can almost guess that most of the stories told on our land have been about poverty as is in I Want to Be a Pilot, a 2006 award winning Kenyan -Mexican short documentary directed by Diego Quemada-Diez. This tale of a poor Kenyan boy who dreams of being an airline pilot is a seven-time award-winning film.
Kibera Kid is another seven-award winning short feature made in the same year and set in Kibera slums, Nairobi.
Featuring Kibera actors in all the key roles, the film written, directed and co-produced by Nathan Collett, has played at film festivals all around the world including the Berlin Film Festival. Besides being profiled by BBC, Reuters and Al Jazeera, it won a Student EMMY from Hollywood. The short twelve-minute film highlights the choice a child has to make between living with a gang of thieves or leading a crime-free life.
Besides Kibera Kid, Nathan also shot The Oath, a short film about the 50s Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising. It portrays the struggle between two brothers on opposite sides of the conflict.
So, rather than blissful living, is Kenya spreading out a mat for negative story tellers?
Whatever the case, its hard to believe that despite having a 60-year exposure to location scouts, we still lag behind Egypt South Africa and of course Nigeria in film production.
Besides organising annual film festivals, the Kenya Film Corporation is trying to get Kenyans to support local productions.
On Friday, KFC had its first ever mobile screening to the residents of Kayole. Both the young and old enjoyed a local comedy Mungengano (The Race).
So with the opening of another film made in Kenya, let’s hope for a support turnout at the premier.