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TV and Movies

Kenyan Film Goes Toe To Toe With Hollywood For An Oscar

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When we talk of African movies, Nigeria’s Nollywood snatches the headlines. However there are other African countries who are not only doing great movies, but are vying for the highest recognition in the industry, an Oscar.

8 graduates from a film college in Kenya will be waiting nervously to find out if their film will take home an Oscar. These graduates of the Africa Digital Media Institute (ADMI) in Nairobi were part of the team making a movie nominated in the category of best short live action film.

The film, called Watu Wote (or All of Us), tells the story of a terror attack on a bus in Kenya by militant group Al-Shabaab in 2015, in which Muslim passengers protected Christians.

Nairobi slum

“I was at work when I got a call telling me we had been nominated,” says 22-year-old ADMI graduate Claire Njoki, who helped to design and build the film’s set.

“My mum was the first person I told and we cried together. I felt so good that we were able to tell that story about Kenya, it is every filmmaker’s dream to reach the Oscars.”

The short history of ADMI could itself be a script for a feel good film.

The film school’s founder, Wilfred Kiumi, grew up in a slum in Nairobi and developed a love of film after his uncle took him to a government-funded cinema.

He worked in a barbershop to make enough money to go to college.

But his ambition was to set up a film school which would give Kenyan students the full range of skills needed to succeed in the industry.

“At first people thought I was joking when I said I was trying to set up a school, but the more I talked to people about it the more they encouraged me and connected me to others who could help,” he says.

Six years ago this month, the college welcomed its first intake of only five students.

Today, it has 350 students at a purpose-built campus in Narobi’s Central Business District, complete with well-stocked graphic design and animation labs, sound studios and post-production labs.

They study a two-year diploma which includes training in film and TV production, graphic design, journalism, sound engineering and animation, and an internship.

Self-reliant

This is a broader curriculum than other film colleges and it is because Wilfred wanted to teach students to “produce, shoot and deliver all by themselves without having to rely on others”.

The ADMI’s leaders say the nomination for Watu Wote, which involves ADMI graduates and is directed by Katja Benrath of Germany’s Hamburg Media School, is a good start.

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Events

FESPACO 2019 highlights and Winners

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The 26th edition of Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) has come and gone leaving valuable memories and lessons behind. Hitherto, the biennial event of international renown promotes African cinemas. However, this year’s edition also marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration. The weeklong event ran from February 23rd to March 2nd.

During the festival, a statue of ex-Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara was unveiled. The five meters high bronze statue was built close to where he died. Till date, Sankara holds a dear position as an icon of pan-Africanism. He also played a prominent role in the success of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou (FESPACO). Present for the unveiling ceremony were dignitaries within and outside the country. This includes former Ghanaian president, John Rawlings and Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore. Reacting to the monument Rawlings said,

“We have emotions on this site but we need to capitalize on these emotions to move forward. Those who fell here remind us that we are fighting for freedom and justice”.

Roundtable on African women in the cinema industry

Various reputable side events happen at FESPACO events. Consequently, one of the events at the 26th edition was the roundtable on African women in the cinema industry. Held on the 4th day, high-profile dignitaries including Espérance Nyirasafari, Rwanda’s Minister for Sports and Culture were in attendance. The theme of the roundtable was “50 years of FESPACO: 50/50 for Women, equality, and diversity in African Cinema”.

However, Burkina Faso First Lady, Sika Kabore, Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, Abdoul Karim Sango, and Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay also participated at the round table. At the “Visit Rwanda” stand, First Lady Kabore said,

“I am highly impressed by what Rwanda has achieved in such a short period of time. These beautiful pictures on the walls make you want to visit Rwanda.”

The Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

Joe Karekezi wins the Golden Stallion of Yennenga Award

The high point of the festival is the award of the Golden Stallion of Yennenga. Twenty movies made the shortlist for the award. However, Joel Karekezi’s “The Mercy of the Jungle” took it home. Karekezi is a Rwandan director and the movie discusses the DRC war through the eyes of two soldiers lost in the jungle. Consequently, Belgian Marc Zinga also won the best actor for his role in the movie.

“Karma” by Egyptian director, Khaled Youssef scooped the second prize. “Fatwa” by Tunisian director Ben Hohmound took the third prize. Fatwa explores the emotions of a father who finds out his son was a jihadist after his death.

Ecobank Foundation Sembène Ousmane Prize

The Ecobank prize at the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou Film Festival (FESPACO) goes to the movie judged to portray the most positive image of Africa. However, the prize is only exclusive to countries where Ecobank operates. “Miraculous weapon” director, Jean-Pierre Bekolo won a bronze trophy and XOF 5,000,000 ($8500) for winning the award. Reacting to the award, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, Carl Manlan said,

“I have no doubt that Ousmane Sembène, who is rightly… one of Africa’s greatest authors and as the ‘father of African film’, would have been thoroughly engrossed by the storyline of “Miraculous weapons” and how it displays Africa in a positive light.”

Full list of winners

  • GOLDEN STALLION: The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • SILVER STALLION: Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Fatwa by Mahmoud BEN MAHMOUD (Tunisia)
  • BEST ACTOR: Marc Zinga in The Mercy of the Jungle by Joel KAREKEZI (Rwanda)
  • BEST ACTRESS: Samantha Mugatsia in Rafiki by Wanuri KAHUI (Kenya)
  • THE BEST SCRIPT: Regarde-moi (Look at me) by Nejib BELKHADI (Tunisia)/Keteke by Peter SEDUFIA (Ghana)
  • BEST IMAGE: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • BEST SOUND:  Karma by Khaled YOUSSEF (Egypt)
  • THE BEST MUSIC: Sew the Winter To My Skin  by Jahmil XT Qubeka (South Africa)
  • BEST SET: Desrances by Apolline TRAORE (Burkina Faso)
  • BEST EDITING: Mabata Bata by Joao Luis SOL DE CARVALHO (Mozambique)
  • OUMAROU GANDA PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST FEATURE: Jusqu’à la fin des temps Yasmine Chouikh (Algeria)

COURTS-METRAGES FICTION

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Black Mamba by Amel GUELLATY (Tunisia)
  • SILVER FOAL: Une place dans l’avion by Khadidiatou SOW (Sénégal)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Un air de Kora by Angèle DIABANG (Sénégal)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORY

  • GOLDEN STALLION: Le loup d’or de Baolé by Aïcha Boro (Burkina Faso)
  • SILVER STALLION: Au temps où les arabes dansaient by Jawad RHALIB (Morocco)
  • BRONZE STALLION: Whispering Truth To Power by Shameela SEEDAT (South Africa)
  • DIASPORA PRIZE PAUL ROBESON: Meu amigo Fela (Mon ami Fela) by Joel Zito ARAUJO (Brazil)

COURTS-METRAGES DOCUMENTAIRE

  • GOLDEN FOAL: Against all odds (Contre toute attente) by Charity Resian NAMPASO/ Andréa IANNETTA (Kenya)
  • SILVER FOAL: Zanaka-Teny Nomen’i Felix (Ainsi parlait Félix) by Nantenaina LOVA (Madagascar)
  • BRONZE FOAL: Tata Milouda by Nadja HAREK (Algeria)

SERIES TV

  • FIRST PRIZE: Petites Histoires, Grandes Vérités (PHGV) by Ambrose B. COOKE (Ghana)
  • SECOND PRIZE: Blog by Akre Loba Diby MELYOU (Côte d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast)

COMPETITION ANIMATION

  • FIRST PRIZE: Briska by Nadia RAIS (Tunisia)
  • SECOND PRIZE: A kalabanda ate my homework by Raymond MALINGA (Uganda)
  • JURY AWARD: Da Tsysy Da by Tojo Niaina RAJAOFERA (Madagascar)

SCHOOLS CATEGORY

  • FIRST PRIZE: Incompris by Jaurès KOUKPEMEDJI from l’Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Audiovisuel (ISMA) – Bénin
  • SECOND PRIZE: Maison de retraite by N. Ismaël Césaire KAFANDO from l’Institut Supérieur de  l’image et du Son/ Studio Ecole / ISIS/SE – Burkina Faso

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Books

The Story of William Kamkwamba’s Ingenuity Is Coming to Netflix March 1st 2019

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind on Netflix March 1

Netflix is set to release the movie, ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’ on March 1, 2019. The movie is a true story adaptation of a book of the same title. Earlier, it screened at the Sundance Film Festival in preparation for its global debut.

When William Kamkwamba built a windmill, he never thought he was doing anything special. He had been forced to drop out of school as a result due to famine, that made it difficult for his family to afford his tuition. The young Malawian did not want that to deter his education so he frequented the village library. It was there that he discovered his love for electronics. After he read a book called “Using Energy“, he decided to make practical use of the information in the book and create a makeshift wind turbine. He experimented with a small model using a cheap dynamo and eventually transitioned to a functioning model. With it he was able to power up electrical appliances in this family’s house. This piqued the interest of the local community and soon the buzz of his ingenuity caught international attention.

The Book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Former Associated Press reporter, Bryan Mealer had been reporting on conflict across Africa for five years when he heard Mr Kamkwamba’s story. The story was just the kind of tale he loved to tell so he worked with Kamkwamba for a year to write the best selling book entitled “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind“.

In an interview with the BBC, Mealer said Kamkwamba represents Africa’s new “cheetah generation”, young people, energetic and technology-hungry, who are taking control of their own destiny.

“Spending a year with William writing this book reminded me why I fell in love with Africa in the first place,” he said, “It’s the kind of tale that resonates with every human being and reminds us of our own potential.”

According to Harpercollins Publishers, the book had already won praises from the bestselling author of ‘The Alchemist’, Paolo Coelho and Noble Laureate and former Vice President, Al Gore. You can get the book from Amazon.

Chiwetel Ejiofor makes directorial debut

The movie is a directorial debut of Chiwetel Ejiofor who doubles as an actor in the movie. The ’12 Years a Slave’ actor and Oscar nominee said he was charmed by the book and wanted to experience it. Speaking about the movie, Ejiofor said,

“To get emotional truth of the story, I spent a lot of time with William. I came to Malawi to experience the book from the actual ground. I met his family, friends and saw the village where everything took place. [Experiencing stories]…from one point of view is not very rewarding ultimately. I’m just looking forward to being a continuing part of that positive change.”

TED Global Talk

This is not the first time that William Kamkwamba’s story will be told to an international audience. In 2007, he was on Ted Talk sharing his story to a cheering audience. Several venture capitalists at the conference pledged to facilitate his secondary education. In 2013 he was named one of TIME magazine’s “30 People Under 30 Changing The World”.

A Broader Audience

However, the movie adaptation will take Kamkwamba’s story to a wider audience. Speaking on the adaptation of his book for a movie Kamkwamba said,

“It’s very exciting to me because at the time I was writing the book I wanted to reach out to as many people as possible. Having this chance of getting this story into a movie is going to reach more people than the book could have managed to do.”

 

 

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Celebrities

Egyptian American Rami Malek’s Oscar Win Is A Win For Movie Diversity

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It was a star-studded gathering of the Hollywood’s biggest stars on Sunday, February 24, 2019, for the 91st Oscar Academy Awards. The 91st annual red carpet had its surprises too. However, it is understandable that with 7,900 voting members, the odds can swing anywhere. From having no host to an African-American winner, the tales will reverberate for a long time.

Kevin Hart was supposed to host the Oscar this year. However, he withdrew over past tweets that were considered homophobic. The last time the Oscars held without a host was about three decades ago. The absence of a host quickly shifted the attention to tennis superstars like Serena Williams, comedian Trevor Noah, Jennifer Lopez and many more.

Rami Malek wins Best Actor in Leading Role

Rami Malek has always been the favorite to win in the category for his role in the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Before heading to the Oscars, Malek had earlier bagged the British BAFTA award, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Golden Globes award for the same role. He dedicated the award to all the young people struggling to find their voice. On accepting the award Malek talked about his experience as an immigrant. He said,

'I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. ...a first-generation American, and my story is being written now. I cannot be more grateful to each and every one of you.' - Rami Malek at the Oscar 2019 Click To Tweet

Egyptians on Monday hailed the 37-year-old actor as the new ‘Pharaoh’ following the award. Malek’s parents originally from the Upper Egypt province of Minya are immigrants in the United States. In the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Rami Malek also played the role of a gay son of immigrants. His cousin, Fady Essam said,

“[The] entire village was up until 5 o’clock in the morning. We called his mother to congratulate her and urge her to bring him to Egypt to hold a huge celebration for him.”

The ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

The movie, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, is based on the true story of the ‘Queen’ rock band and the life of their lead singer Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek). The events of the movie portray the buildup to their performance at the Live Aid concert (1985) in Wembley Stadium. The movie portrays Freddie Mercury’s journey from a struggling immigrant to a world-famous artist.

ALSO READ: Netflix Will Release It’s First African Original Series in 2019 Starring This African Actress

‘Black Panther’ took home three awards

Rami Malek made many African proud but he was not the only beacon of the night. ‘Black Panther’, the first black superhero movie also shone at the 91st annual awards. The movie about Wakanda, a mythical country in Africa received seven nominations and won three. Black Panther took the award for the best original score, costume design, and production design. The movie broke box office records becoming the second highest grossing movie of 2018 with over $1.3 billion in revenue worldwide.

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