Friday, October 12, 2018

The future that lies ahead in African film

Getting down to business: Veteran film maker

Getting down to business: Veteran film maker Njoki Muhoho leads the young filmakers in their journey towards storytelling. PHOTO | FILE 

By Mpoki Thomson

Nairobi. Africa’s film industry has come along way to where it is today. As one of the oldest art forms in the modern entertainment industry in Africa, film has seen gradual but steady progress in different aspects.

It is partly due to such a promising future that the University of Dar es Salaam decided to start a whole new degree course on film and television as part of its curriculum.

The broadness of the film industry is something that makes it even more appealing.

Film brings together a diverse group of talented individuals with a shared passion of telling stories through motion narrative. While some bask in the glow of attention in front of the screen, others do the magic behind the camera.

There are film directors, writers, sound engineers, costume designers – the list is endless in this creative industry.

As a result, Multichoice Africa, through the Multichoice Talent Factory Academy in East Africa, launched a film academy that will breed Africa’s next generation of filmmakers.

Stationed in Nairobi, Kenya, the talent factory will see some of Africa’s most passionate filmmakers work hand-in-hand with experienced hands in the African film industry, spearheaded by East Africa Academy Director Njoki Muhoho.

The 20 candidates begin their 12-month training programme at the Academy this month where they will be provided with skillsets to develop their talent, connect with industry professionals and tell authentic African stories.

They will go through a comprehensive curriculum comprising theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling.

Representatives

Tanzania has four representatives in the inaugural film academy after going through a rigorous process of interviews before finally being selected.

They include Sarah Kimario, Wilson Nkya, Jamal Kishuli and Jane Moshi.

At the launch event earlier this week, Jamal Kishuli expressed his delight for being part of such a big project in African film.

“This project is bigger than I anticipated,” he says as he marvels at the expansive talent factory which he will call home for the next 12 months.

Speaking about the curriculum, Jamal says they will first be taught general studies on film before later specialising on their skill sets.

“I personally will specialise on directing because it is what I’m passionate about,” says Jamal, who is one among the first eight students in the country to study the new course on film and television at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Whereas the talent factory in East Africa comprises a group of 20 candidates, there are two other groups based in West Africa and Southern Africa, taking the total number of candidates being trained under the Multichoice Talent factory to 60.

Other countries that sent candidates to the academy from East Africa are Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Cicy Nalumansi, an avid film maker from Uganda who’s also part of the training camp couldn’t hold back her excitement at the prospects that await her and the rest of her colleagues in this new venture.

“I feel so lucky for being a part of such a talented group of individuals from different parts of Africa,” she expresses, and shares that she would love to learn Swahili while at the academy.

The Dream

Also in attendance at the launch of the academy was Executive Secretary of National Arts Council of Tanzania, Godfrey Mngereza.

He was evidently impressed by the effort being put to promote Africa’s film industry – so much so that he even at one point joined a group of African dancers on stage and celebrated with them as they danced to traditional tunes.

“These students have been given such a rare opportunity,” he says, adding; “I hope they know how valuable the lessons they will learn here are to the overall development in their careers as young filmmakers in Africa.”

Featuring a stellar line up, the launch event saw Information and Communication Cabinet Secretary of Kenya, Joseph Mucheru, as one of the main keynote speakers of the day. Director-General,Communications Authority of Kenya,Engineer Francis Wangusi, Principal Secretary, State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunication, Fatuma Hirsi Mohammed, John Kiarie MP Dagoretti South, CEO Kenya Film Classification Board, Dr Ezekiel Mutua.

“The key to longevity of our culture, industry and storytelling traditions, lie in the opportunities we create for established creative professionals to exercise their craft while simultaneously mentoring the next generation.

The MultiChoice Talent Factory is a critical link to realising this dream. It is through this lens that we celebrate our investment in the development of future creative leaders, the local economy and reverence for the art of storytelling in the African tradition – truly giving agency to the MultiChoice vision of Enriching Lives,” said Maharage Chande, Northern Region Director at MultiChoice Africa.

The journey

The journey to starting East Africa’s most promising academy on film first started as a nightmare, according to East Africa talent academy director Njoki Muhoho.

“It wasn’t easy trying to get everything together initially. I had to wear many hats. This has been the most difficult project I’ve had to manage. But eventually what might have started off as a very tasking venture turned into a dream,” she says.

Known to be very passionate about film, Njoki will be at the frontline teaching the students all they need to know about filmmaking and telling authentic African stories.

“We want to see a different side of Africa. Let us forget the old narratives depicting Africa as a poor continent. Our continent has a lot of beautiful things that the world needs to know about,” she says.

Apart from learning the general requisites on making film, the candidates will also receive lessons on the commercial side of the trade.

“We are building careers. These candidates will be taught about taxes, business management skills – we want them to profit from film,” Njoki says. On their first day at the academy the students hit the ground running. “I gave them homework on their first day of screening,” says Njoki, who is the academy headmistress.

Diversity and determination is something that can clearly be seen from the group of young individuals keen on pursuing their dreams. Njoki narrated a story of one of the candidates who got sick on the day of departure to Nairobi and was asked by her mother to withdraw from the training.

“This brave girl told her mother that even if she will have to crawl her way to the airport, nothing will stop her from being on that airplane,” Njoki reveals. Such is the passion that the students have, one that will see them achieve greatness in the film industry.

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