Thursday, 13 September 2018



By Margaretta wa Gacheru (Posted September 12, 2018)

The fascination among Kenyans for filmmaking has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. There are film schools coming up everywhere from Kenyatta University and of course, KIMC to the Multimedia University, the Mohamed Amin Foundation and elsewhere.
Plus there’s even more freelance filmmaking underway as a result of initiatives like Kalasha, Kenya Film Commission, Riverwood, Slum Film Festival, DocuBox, The Bus and even the Kenya Scriptwriters Guild.
Yet all of these programs cannot fully satisfy the aspirations of many more young Kenyans who have a dream of one day becoming another George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Wanuri Kahiu or Likarion Wainaina. They might not have the fancy equipment or the big budget to make the films they want.
But what most Kenyans do have is a cell phone, and most probably even a smartphone, be it an Oppo, Iphone, Infinix, Samsung or Tecno. All of these phones have a camera in them which can be used to make a film.
Many smartphone owners probably snap images to insert on their Instagram account. But how many use their phones to make actual movies?
This is what the Third annual Smartphone Film Competition is encouraging every Kenyan 18 years and over to do with the hope that they might win either first or second prize or even the People’s Choice award come October 12th.
Any one of those wins would get them either Sh100,000, Sh50,000 or Sh25,000.
All you have to do is make a video with your phone which is four minutes or less, turn it into Alliance Francaise by September 30th, and keep it focused on  the theme #sheisnambaone.
“But people shouldn’t take the theme [she’s number one] too literally,” says the competition’s organizer, Harsita Waters, the cultural coordinator at Alliance Francaise.
“People need to think outside the box and use their imagination and creativity,” she adds.
For instance, the video could be about your number one actress or spoken word poet or even a pop singer. It could be about your favorite pet, your favorite city or even your number one choice of sports car.
The first year the competition was held, the theme was ‘Rebellious Spirit’ and only 30 films were submitted. But the second year when the theme was ‘Storos za familia’ more than 100 film shorts were sent in.
This year, expectations are high that Alliance Francaise will receive many more entries than in years past since the interest in filmmaking has soared and the word is getting out on social media that the prizes are substantial.
Another bonus to being involved in this year’s competition is that the finalists’ films will be shown everyday preceding the French film that is part of this year’s French Film Festival.
“Depending on the number of entries sent in, we could even show as many as ten smartphone films a day,” says Harsita. In the past she says she has seen some remarkable talent emerging out of the competition. She expects it will be no different next month.
Others who have similar high expectation include France 24, Radio France International, Canal+, European Union and Film Studies, all of whom are supporting this year’s Festival.

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