Organization of above-the-line and below-the-line talent. Finding funding financial backers. Technology, finding an audience . This paper is going to look at the factors limiting the growth of film industry in Kenya.. A Brief History of Film in Kenya Film in Kenya, until recently, has been marked by external film industries using Kenya as a location to tell their own stories. According to the Kenya Film Commission’s website (2012), the first Hollywood productions in Kenya came in the 1930s, African Holiday, Stanley and Livingstone, and Trader Horn among them.
Memorable adventure films like The Snows of Kilimanjaro, King Solomon’s Mines, and Mogambo reached wider audiences in the 1950s and Showcased Hollywood stars on wild adventures in the rugged Kenyan terrain. In 1981, the BBC Produced a widely acclaimed 7-part television miniseries based on the life of Elspeth Huxley, and her white settler memoir, The Flame Trees of Thika. But 1985’s Out of Africa, the Meryl Streep and Robert Redford expatriate drama based on the life of Danish citizen, Karen Blixen, was a turning point for films made in Kenya.
While not the first departure from the adventure-safari film so commonly made in Kenya, Out of Africa brought worldwide attention to Kenya by winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Out of Africa showed that Kenya could also be a beautiful setting for dramatic films. Recent films, such as Nowhere In Africa, the German film that won the 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, and The Constant Gardener, based on the John le Carre novel, have been successful Kenya-based films despite the fact that they belie the action-adventure genre.
The films discussed thus far have all been foreign productions using Kenya as the landscape to produce their own stories, with Kenya merely being a setting for a prohibitive Western or “settler” story. What of Kenyan films made by Kenyans, telling Kenyan stories? To date, there have been no major Kenyan films produced that have made a mark on global audiences. Other than wildlife films, such as those shot by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, or BBC, indigenous film in Kenya has been confined to selected Kenyan audiences without international release.
At best, a major Kenyan production has a premiere in cinemas around Nairobi before going direct-to-video for sale on the streets. Kenyan filmmakers who are on the rise hope to break down the wall preventing Kenyan films from being shown and celebrated beyond Kenyan borders (1. 2)Background Of the problem The following are factors that that limits the growth of film industry in Kenya 1: Lack of Film Education – Currently in Kenya there are two universities that offer rigorous training in film production.
Multimedia University Collage of the Kenya and Kenyatta University, according to Film Commission surveyed the current offerings at universities: We have schools like Daystar and the University of Nairobi. They teach what we call Communication courses. They teach media, but concentrate heavily on journalism. They Don’t have film lecturers. A few programs in Nairobi offer film production workshops; Wilnag Magenta, Shang tao are such programs. They offer one or two training sessions. What Kenya lacks is a school that concentrates on film.
The only real option for a Kenyan who wants to truly study film is to leave the country for a film school on the African continent, such as in South Africa or Egypt, or overseas. The Kenya Film Commission recognizes this. “The commission is in the process of trying to set up a School of Excellence in film such as Multimedia University of Kenya. We’ve talked to professors in the States about sharing curriculum with us” (Course coordinator of Film and Animation Multimedia University Collage of Kenya November 8TH 2012).