Where are our movies, Project Nollywood?
About a year ago, ten Kenyan artistes traveled to Nigeria for a two-week training program in movie making facilitated by Mnet Africa, Kenya Film Commission and players from the thriving Nigeria Film Industry, famously known as Nollywood. Ideally, the participants were expected to draw from the knowledge of their Nigerian counterparts and on return to share their experiences with local colleagues with whom they would then collaborate to develop our fledgling industry.
It has been silent since they returned and I'm sure quite a number of artistes are at a loss what to make of it. Is there anything cooking in the studios or was the trip for the personal benefit of the ten artistes only? Even so, what have they been up to since? Our Riverwood, or whatever 'wood' we shall baptize our version of a movie hub, will certainly not thrive out of stealthy, publicity-starved production processes.
At the launch of the project, lots of sweet-sounding goals were made by the Kenya Film Commission. It pledged to support the group translate their knowledge into tangible productions upon return and even promised to host workshops where they would disseminate acquired skills to other players in the field. Well? Are we waiting for Godo? I cannot guess by what means the Commission intended or intends to notify the country-wide enthusiasts of these activities when their website was last updated at the launch of the project. This is a sad indictment for an organization whose mandate is 'to make Kenya a centre of film production'. It is doubly sad, especially given the goodwill and resources from Mnet Africa and the Nollywood veterans.
Indeed Mnet Africa has been at the forefront of promoting Nollywood productions through the DSTV Africa Movie Magic channel. They have recently launched an extra channel, Africa Movie Magic Plus, to showcase productions from East and Central Africa. This is an excellent marketing opportunity for our movies which we might just lose as we continue waiting for Godo. Already, the earlier movies from Kenya like Backlash, By Any Means Necessary, Clean Hands and Wangai's Cross have been run severally alongside those from Tanzania, Uganda and the Central states. After years of whining about lack of exposure, this is certainly a good time to put our act together and churn out those movies.