By Kenneth Jura | Kenya
Alliance Française ’s auditorium played host to the third session of the CinemAlliance screenings on the theme The Future of Kenyan Films which focused on student films that was held on the 13th April 2015. The first film ‘Morning Glory’ by Patrick Kioko focused on a couple and twists surrounding their relationship made the film remarkable. Afterwards, silent film “Shoes” which was more of a girl meet boy story with a mix of unique colour grading style. The film’s director Caroline Kitili described the film as their first experimental film to be shot while in school. As the evening wore on, other film enthusiasts thronged the auditorium with the third screening being a documentary made by students from MultiMedia University dubbed Haller Park which was edited by Elvis Muchara.
‘Haller Park’s’ narration bordered David Attenborough’s style, deep and heavy voice that keeps you glued through the entire documentary. David Attenborough is best known for writing and presenting the nine ‘Life series’, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively made a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on the planet. Haller Park on the other hand is a nature park South of Mombasa on the Malindi-Mombasa highway. The park was an initiative of Bamburi cement converting barren landscape of disused limestone quarries into vibrant and diverse ecosystem of forest, grasslands and ponds. The pans and tilts in the documentary was amazingly done, you have to watch it to believe.
‘Sticking Ribbons’ explores the life of a former addict Kimberly (Maureen Koech) who struggles with drug addiction. The short film by Kevin Njue won the East African Talent award 2014 at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. Months after a fateful accident, Ian finally decided to confront his ghost girlfriend Becky who he knew had died. That is ‘Free Spirit’ synopsis which was screened.
LightBox’s film ‘Ahavah’ which means love in Hebrew wowed the crowd as the last film of the evening ushering in panelists who dissected the evening’s screening in various angles. The panelists were Wanjiru Kinyanjui a filmmaker and film lecturer at Multi Media University, Dr. Fred Mbogo from Moi University, Patrick Kioko and Caroline Kitili whose films were among those screened.
“The future of these young filmmakers is very bright” was the response Dr. Mbogo gave in line with the theme of the evening, whereas Ms. Kinyanjui encouraged the students to be unique “You are unique! Get your unique voice going and expose your work”. Mr. Bernard Owuor a film lecturer faulted the education curriculum for the many units being taught in universities giving examples of editing which was being regarded as a unit, colour correcting and music mixing and other film elements as independent units which impedes a student from specialising in one area. Consequently, the audience’s inquisitiveness in knowing silent films was evident as witnessed in the films ‘Ahavah’ and ‘Shoes’.
The theme for next month theme will be on ‘Development films’ featuring Africa Slum Journal.
By Kenneth Jura
It was a chilly Sunday morning ready to head out to shoot a short film. We converged at Kencom waiting for the location scout to lead the cast and crew to the shooting location. This is not the Archer’s Post kind of shoot where you are far from the target like in the military but rather very close to the subject but without a firearm. You are only armed with a camera, everything else is harmless and end up creating a masterpiece shots.
Some minutes past 6 a.m. cast and crew had made their presence known, every soul armed and ready to go and shoot in Ruai. I had never been to the place; excitement was being suppressed by the chilly morning. Loud church public address system welcomed us to the location throwing the sound team made up of Brian Munene and Mwikali Mutune into fits of rage. They questioned the rationale for choosing this particular location for the film and why of all days, a Sunday. The location scout explained his choice by pulling them aside in a bid to explain and after their chit chat smiles indicated agreement.
The van dropped off the crew and went back to collect the cast. I should point out that the latter were waiting for another van, which simply went AWOL on us. We had everything all prepared; two vans and two drivers but alas they all did not show up. Yes, that is how unpredictable some shoots can be.
After the cast’s arrival some minutes past 8am the director called the team for a short brief of what he anticipated. By this time, the makeup artist had already made the cast look awesome and ready for the shoot. The cast members included Shirleen Kemunto as Tumiso, Anita Njeri as Noni, Mukami as Cucu among others who had previously rehearsed and memorized their lines.
“Camera 1 ready?”
ACTION!! The director shouted while issuing thumbs up gesture signifying commencement of the shoot.
The shoot went on well till midnight with lunch break at around 2pm. In between the shoot the cast waited in turns for their roles, at one point Tumiso was too fatigued to continue acting. It was her first time.
The real drama started when the film director made the last call “CUT”, the clock’s hands shy of 1am, yet the following day we were to be back on the same location by 6 am. We boarded the van ready to head home after an exciting though exhaustive shoot. We snaked our way past the dusty all weather Ruai road to Kangundo road where we drove faster and finally into Caltex petrol station to refuel.
After refueling to join Outer Ring Road the van could not come to a halt because its brakes had failed. Pandemonium ensued with petrol station attendants and passers-by shouting “Moto Moto” while running towards our vehicle. Most of the cast and crew thought a grenade had been hurled into the vehicle and hence the shouting. This was happening at a time when the country faced numerous grenade attacks by terrorists.
I was fast asleep at the back of the vehicle only to be brought to my senses by a Good Samaritan who was banging at the rear window in an attempt to notify me of the impending danger. The other crew members were safely out of the van.
The rear left wheel was in flames!
Several buckets swallowed sand and water and vomited them on the burning wheel to muzzle the flames. After several trembles, teeth gnashing and grief stricken faces, the producer Bramwel called in several taxis to ferry the crew home. However, before we left, the question on everyone’s mind was whether the call time was still 6am?
“Ladies and gentlemen the call time still remains the same, 6am despite what has happened” the producer told the crew who had gathered around him.
Moving on, the following day by 7:30 am both the cast and crew were on set but unfortunately there was power rationing in the area; we therefore had to get a generator for the shoot to proceed. We had previously contracted a company to bring generator on location, nevertheless, after several calls they responded that it was too early for them. They could only come after an hour, they eventually came and the shoot went on uneventful.
When the film director Soko, called the shoot to a close it was some minutes past 10pm. Exhaustion had crept in long ago and agile bones had become too weary. After the cast had left for home, the crew ran into police who wanted to know more information because the van had able bodied men with all sorts of production equipment unknown to the police. They were six armed policemen, G3 rifles hanging on their shoulders giving them courage like a stethoscope on a doctor’s neck. They asked Bramwel what they were doing at such an hour with all that equipment.
“Mnataka kulipua wapi, bomb iko wapi?”
Just before he responded, he was mercilessly whipped leaving an indelible mark for supposedly taking too long to respond to their queries.
Each time we remember the challenges we encountered while shooting “Ririkana” we lift our glasses in honor of Bramwel, who indeed took one for the team, quite literally.
Watch Ririkana trailer here 🙂