TropFest Nairobi |23rd & 25th March 2014


Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival and one of its most iconic cultural events. It is also the largest short film festival in the world. Tropfest is recognised for its enormous contribution to the development of the Australian film industry by providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and new and expanded audiences for their work.

The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of their background or experience. 16 Finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 700 annual entries and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Past judges have included some of the best and well known actors and directors in the world including John Woo, Cate Blanchett, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor, Jane Campion, Salma Hayek, and Gabriel Byrne.

As a guest of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, Tropfest Managing Director Michael Laverty, will visit Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria to present a series of short film screenings to South African audiences. The film program will comprise highlights from former Tropfest Australia winners and finalists between the years 2005 and December 2013. Tropfest films will also be screened at events in Kenya and Zimbabwe this month. The screenings form part of Tropfest’s commitment to fostering filmmaking talent at an international level,

The massive expansion of Tropfest around the globe conveys a worldwide appetite for fresh storytelling voices. It is so exciting to have Tropfest travel to Africa. We know that there is an enormous community of storytellers in this region, and we hope to one day establish a local platform for these filmmakers – with a global audience to share their stories with.

– Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson

I am proud that Australia is supporting this important cultural exchange in the film sector, and hope that Tropfest will be well received by South African audiences. This festival forms part of a larger program of cultural and sporting events planned to coincide with this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy celebrations, which will showcase the strong and diverse Australia-South Africa relationship to the broader public.

– HE Mr Graeme Wilson, Australia’s High Commissioner to South Africa

How can short film festivals provide a platform for talented young filmmakers?

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CinemAfrica Sweden 2014 | 19 – 23 March


19th – 23rd March 2014

CinemAfrica arranges the largest African film festival in Sweden. The festival is a unique opportunity for children, youth and adults to watch and discuss films from emerging African film industries. They show feature films, documentaries, short films and animations made by filmmakers of African descent and works to highlight the Africans own pictures and stories.

Kenyan artists/filmmakers Wangechi Mutu and Jim Chuchu both have work that is screening. Mutu’s first animated film The End of eating Everything will be screening and Chuchu’s work is also screening as part of the African Metropolis project which I previously featured here.

African metropolis

cinemafrica 2014

There are also talks and special Q&A sessions throughout the festival. What part does contemporary art from Africa play across the global art world? Three artists who all use visual art as one of their mediums will be hosting a discussion, international Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, producer/researcher/presenter Zina Saro-Wiwa and innovative filmmaker Frances Bodomo. In collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. This event is free.


Stuart Hall was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers, and has been a constant presence in the global public debate for over 50 years, a pioneer in everything from the British New Left to feminist cultural analysis and postcolonial studies. In this sensitive told documentary director John Akomfrah creates a beatiful portrait of Stuart Hall from archive images and audio fragments, and creates an equal political and personal dialogue about memory, identity and our age’s dramatic history.

cinemafrica 2014

The history of black women in the American civil rights movement in the 60’s – and 70’s in a large-scale and ambitious documentary, a celebration of generations and a lesson to today’s feminists from the young, Nigeria-born filmmaker Nevline Nnaji. With a mixture of fresh interviews and archival material, we follow the emergence of a strong, international solidarity, black feminism, which is forced to fight against both sexist structures in the civil rights movement and racist structures in the women’s movement.


Some would argue that no area within the film world has changed so fast and so spectacularly in recent years as the African music videos, today a giant industry that established links with many of the most exciting and experimental willing new filmmakers. Along with a panel of directors who all have been involved in various ways in the music video world, examples will be shown and there will be discussions about the production, aesthetics, the music industry and how today directors are approaching the history and future.  Teddy Goitom from Stocktown where music videos are prominently featured, will be on the panel.

Also screening are various films I have featured here including Afronauts  and Boneshaker by Frances Bodomo,

The Robots of Brixton and Jonah by Kibwe Tavares,

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Profile of the Week | Mũchiri Njenga


Mũchiri Njenga

This week, my feature profile is Mũchiri Njenga. He is the founder of Nairobi-based boutique creative studio Studio Ang which has become a haven for independent artists that enjoy working on unique and visually innovative projects. Njenga is a self-taught transmedia artist and filmmaker whose background spans the fields of animation, motion design, music and film. Kichwateli and My World is Round are two short films by Njenga that screened at the Afrika Eye Film Festival at The Watershed in Bristol, UK last year.




Kichwateli is a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city. The film takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream, mixing imagery of the boy wandering inquisitively with a live TV as his head to show the effects of media on a young generation.

The short film features music by Just A Band, Modeselektor ( a breakbeat duo from Berlin) and Maasai Mbili (Nairobi-based Art group). The music is a metaphor for the way we are now all plugged into the same images of global anxiety while at the same time we ourselves, are subjects of scrutiny by the all-seeing ubiquitous cameras. The director of Goethe-Institut Nairobi Johannes Hossfeld said this of the project,

Muchiri made one of the best music videos I have ever seen in my life.

Kichwateli was Studio Ang’s contribution to the BLNRB project, a cooperation between Kenyan and German musicians initiated by Goethe-Institut Nairobi and Gebrüder Teichmann. Learn more about the filmmaking process for Kichwateli and the inspirations that led to it’s production by clicking here.


Portrait by Allan Gichigi


Our World Is Round

Our World Is Round  is a short film that celebrates the life-time achievement of veteran Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah and his award winning team Safari Simbaz. The film details how Kinjah discovered cycling and what brings him joy in this activity. Having raced and won medals in prestigious races around the world, Kinjah also mentored Tour De France 2013 winner Chris Froome.


Kinjah, the first black African rider to sign for a European cycling team, trained Froome as a cyclist when he was a boy while his family was living in Kenya. The film also delineates Kinjah’s strong desire to transform the lives of the people in his village through his passion and the power of cycling. This is an initiative which has taken form in the Safari Simbaz Trust,

Most of these young boys are school dropouts who would have ended up being gangsters. But through Safari Simbaz, they’ve learned a lot about life, gone back to school and most of them [now] have a career in pro-cycling, representing Kenya in international races globally.

In this film, the advantages that new technology has provided are also brought to the fore. When Kinjah first started cycling professionally, he mainly relied on magazines and newspapers. Now, with the help of web developer Fady Rostom, Kinjah and his team have an online presence that can be reached globally. Read more about the film and view more photos at a previous feature I wrote here.

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Lupita Nyong’o | Awards Season Guide

lupita awards

The largest and most famous film Awards season is firmly under way, but there are still many events to come and we are now headed towards some of the most important accolades in the film industry. Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o‘s critically acclaimed performance in 12 Years A Slave has led to multiple nominations and award wins. The film has been awarded 370 nominations and won 183 awards thus far. To find out more about Lupita, read previous features I have written here and here.

Below is a list of some of the events she has attended, and the major upcoming events she is likely to attend. Any wins 12 Years A Slave has received from the following Award bodies, will be stated in the respective sections. Photos will be uploaded as they become available.

Lupita with Angela Bassett

Lupita’s New Hollywood Award was presented to her by acting legend Angela Bassett.

Hollywood Film Awards, 18th -20th October 2013

The Hollywood Film Festival was created to make a connection between established Hollywood studios, independent filmmakers and the global creative community, as well as to honor excellence in the art of filmmaking. The awards are bestowed on honorees rather than nominees. In effect, the recipients are not competing; they are selected to be honored for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. Artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen received the Hollywood Breakout Director Award and actress Lupita Nyong’o received the New Hollywood Award for their work on 12 Years A Slave.


Lupita Nyong’o accepting her LAFCA Best Supporting Actress award which she won for ’12 Years A Slave’.

LAFCA Awards, Saturday 11th January 2014

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) is comprised of Los Angeles-based, professional film critics working in the Los Angeles print and electronic media. The association also presents yearly awards to members of the film industry who have excelled in their fields. The creative team behind 12 Years A Slave received a Special Citation for “beautifully telling a story that challenges us to reconcile who we are now with what we did then,” while Lupita received her award for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave,

My cup runneth over with gratitude…I am still in awe of [director] Steve McQueen.

Palm Springs International Film Festival, Sunday 4th January 2014

Now in its 25th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the US. The festival features more than 180 films from over 70 countries and includes the largest selection Foreign Language Oscar submissions of any Festival in the US. PSIFF has also evolved into one of the most highly anticipated preludes to the Oscars. Artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen won the Director of the Year Award and Lupita won the Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in 12 Years A Slave.

AFI Awards, Friday, January 10, 2014

The American Film Institute is a film organization that educates future filmmakers and honors the heritage of the moving picture arts. Each year the AFI Awards honor the ten outstanding films and the ten outstanding television programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. Director Steve McQueen and Nyong’o were both honorees at the AFI Awards luncheon.

golden globes

(L-R) Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Steve McQueen, Sarah Paulson, and Michael Fassbender pose in the press room with the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama for 12 Years a Slave at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards.

Golden Globe Awards,  Sunday, January 12, 2014

First held in 1947, the Golden Globe Awards honor achievements in film and television and divide the nominees into two categories: comedy/musical and drama. The Golden Globe Award is an American accolade bestowed by around 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign. 12 Years A Slave won the top accolade, Best Motion Picture – Drama.


Lupita Nyong’o posing with her Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress which she won for ’12 Years A Slave’.

Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Critics’ Choice Awards honor achievements in film. This year, 12 Years a Slave won three awards with the film winning Best Picture, Lupita Nyong’o Best Supporting Actress and the film’s screenwriter John Ridley Best Adapted Screenplay. Going into the awards, the Fox Searchlight produced film had 13 nominations.

sag awards

Lupita Nyong’o posing with Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for ’12 Years A Slave’.

Screen Actors Guild Awards, Saturday, January 18, 2014

The SAG annual awards, now in their 20th year, honor acting work in five film categories and eight television categories. The most important award goes to an ensemble cast in both TV and film in order to highlight the collaborative art of acting.Only members of acting guild SAG-AFTRA may vote, so all winners are decided by their peers. The guild includes around 100,000 actors. It has become one of the industry’s most prized honors. 12 Years A Slave received 4 nominations with Nyong’o scoring the only win (for Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor in a Supporting Role).

Producers Guild Awards, Sunday, January 19th 2014

The Producers Guild of America is a non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The PGA has over 5,000 members who work together to protect and improve their careers, the industry and community by facilitating members health benefits, encouraging enforcement of workplace labor laws, the creation of fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, as well as other education and advocacy efforts. Gravity and 12 Years a Slave tied for top honors beating front-runner American Hustle and throwing open one of the tightest Oscar races in years.

12 Years a Slave producers Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt & Dede Gardner shared the Darryl F. Zanuck Outstanding Producer of theatrical motion picture prize. The tie is a first in this category in PGA history.

Directors Guild Awards, Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is an entertainment guild which represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry and abroad. The DGA is the world’s preeminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team, including Directors, Assistant Directors, Unit Production Managers, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates – 15,000 strong worldwide. McQueen was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 12 Years A Slave, but lost to Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).

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Watch ‘Something Necessary’ For FREE


something necessary

The fourth film in the HBF x Hivos Online Series is Something Necessary by Judy Kibinge, available from Friday 31 January 2014, 11:00 hrs (CET) for 24 hours worldwide (except in Germany, the UK and Switzerland) on the IFFR YouTube channel. Something Necessary was given a Hubert Bals Fund grant for Post-production Support in 2012.



Something Necessary shows the impact of the 2007 post-election violence,

Election violence based on ethnicity is a recurrent phenomenon in Kenya, but the destruction in 2007 was unparalleled. Youth gangs egged on by politicians roamed the country for three months, plundering, raping and murdering. Some 1200 people were killed. Over 300,000 Kenyans fled. The International Court of Justice in The Hague is still investigating suspects.
Anne is one of the victims: her husband dead, son in a coma, farm destroyed and she herself ended up in a hospital bed. For the sake of her child, she wants to build up her life again, whatever the cost. She meets Joseph, who was on the side of the culprits during the riots. He is burdened by guilt, but is still under the control of the gang he was a member of. Both look for a way out.
Something Necessary tells the true story. The film primarily shows how complex things are when it’s not about the statistics of a conflict but the people behind the numbers.


Hivos in Kenya

From behind the scenes, Hivos supports independent cinema in Kenya. Hivos is partner of the Kenya Media Programme and the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking that aim to improve the quality of journalism and filmmaking in Kenya. To help Kenya have a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections Hivos partnered with Ushahidi, a Kenya technology developer, and various civil society organisations to come up with the joint initiative Uchaguzi to monitor Kenya’s electoral process. Uchaguzi means ‘election’ in Swahili. Hivos facilitated the process of creating an election monitoring platform in 2013.

About the director
Judy KIBINGE (1967, Kenya) moved to the US and later to the UK during her childhood and studied communication in Manchester. After her return to Kenya she worked in advertising and became the country’s first black creative director. Since 1999 she has dedicated herself fully to film. She is the driving force behind film production house Seven, established in 2006. Her debut A Dangerous Affair received an award at the Zanzibar Film Festival in 2003. Something Necessary is her third feature film.

African Metropolis | 6 Cities, 6 Tales

African metropolis

African Metropolis is a series of short fiction films that tell urban tales about life in major African metropolises, a unique partnership towards new African cinema. The films were made in six African cities – Abidjan, Cairo, Dakar, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. Kenya’s entry is Homecoming by Jim Chuchu. His film conveys a voyeur’s obsession with the girl next door, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, science fiction and fiction.

The films were developed over a period of one year with workshops held in Durban and Berlin. This film project is an initiative of Goethe-Institut South Africa and South African executive producer Steven Markovitz, with support from Guaranty Trust Bank plc and the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

In July 2013, African Metropolis premiered at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), one of the most important film industry events on the continent.  Two years of intensive preparation lead up to the premieres: Based on 40 scripts submitted, the film makers were chosen from the six cities. A mentoring programme and workshops ensued, which started off at the Durban Talent Campus in July 2012. Rasha Salti, Head of international programming at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF),

If the African Metropolis Short Film Project is to be continued (…) an intriguing testimony of contemporary film making may emerge – a testimony of a continent that has served as a projection screen for rigid and superficial clichés for too long.

All six of the African Metropolis films get their European premiere at the 43rd edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR 2014) and their US premiere at the 29th Santa Barbara Film Festival. Homecoming will screen at the CinemAfrica Film Festival in Sweden (19 – 23 March). Read about all the entries in the project below.



Homecoming, Directed by Jim Chuchu, Nairobi, 2013 © Homecoming


Directed by Jim Chuchu
Language: English / Kiswahili
Subtitles: English

Fantasy, science fiction and infatuation fuse as an obsessed neighbour invents ever-stranger scenarios for wooing the girl of his dreams.

Nothing is what it seems as Max – a nerdy voyeur – turns fiction into truth and the mundane into the unexpected in his quest to get the attention of Alina – the girl next door. The city of Nairobi is threatened with imminent extinction, and now is his chance to save her and verbalise his unspoken desire. However, a mysterious stranger stands in the way of his happiness. Will Max overcome his fear and save the girl? Is Alina looking for a hero? A quirky, light-hearted look at obsession and the desire to be seen.

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Afrika Eye Film Festival Nov 8 – 10 2013


The Afrika Eye Film Festival makes a welcome return for its 9th year and will take place at the prestigious Watershed cinema in Bristol, UK.  This year’s theme is ‘Kenya at 50’ in recognition of Kenya’s 50 years of independence. Kenyan films and film-makers are being given centre stage. This includes launching the festival with the first regional screening of David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga’s highly-praised Nairobi Half-Life and the regional premiere of Something Necessary followed by a Q&A session with its up-and-coming director Judy Kibinge (founder of DocuBox).

Tickets for the festival are now available. The festival programme is also available here. Make sure you follow Afrika Eye’s facebook page and twitter for regular updates and fringe events. View Afrika Eye’s fun and beautiful short promo here:

Another festival guest will be director Alain Gomis (Senegal/France), introducing, and later discussing, his internationally-applauded feature, TEY (Aujourd’hui/Today), which stars the actor, musician, poet and hip hop artist Saul Williams (previously seen in the big hit, SLAM).


Other African-themed attractions include music, food, fashion, debates, director Q&A sessions, new shorts, a photo exhibitions and workshops for young people, led by singer Mim Suleiman of Zanzibar (who features on the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto V). There is also a short film programme titled EYEFULL which is a 90 minute programme of short films told from an African or Diaspora perspective that will be running alongside the main festival.

at Jahazi Festival 2011 (photo: Peter Bennett)
In addition, there will be an exhibition of Kanga – the highly colourful and boldly designed cloth wraps worn by men and women in east Africa – an African themed menu and a round table debate about media education and the potential for film club exchanges by Bristol/Nairobi schools.
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Pitching Workshop | Afrika Eye



The Afrika Eye Festival in Bristol, UK will return for its 8th consecutive year from 8th – 10th November 2013. This year’s theme is Kenya in celebration of 50 years of independence.

Prior to the launch of the festival, Afrika Eye have organised a pitching workshop. Read the brief below:

Pitching, or presenting your film idea, to professionals is a vital skill in getting your film made. So this year, Afrika Eye decided to hold some mentored sessions where a selected group of film makers (or would-be film makers) get 4 minutes to pitch their idea to film professionals in front of an audience.

The pitch with the most votes from the film professionals will win a small cash prize towards making the film happen. You’re eligible if:

  • You live in or near Bristol
  • Your idea is for a 5 – 10 minute film
  • You are African, African Heritage or your idea is connected to Africa

There are 2 sessions.

The first will be a mentoring workshop on October 24 , 9.30-1pm at Watershed arts centre for 20-30 people, split into into groups of 10.

You’ll learn how to write, time and present your pitch.

From each group, the 2 pitches judged to have the most potential to be made into films will be selected to pitch in the second session. At the second session, the selected pitches will be presented to a team of film professionals plus an audience of the other workshop participants and interested public.

The professional team will award a small cash prize to the most outstanding pitch. More importantly, all participants will have the chance to learn from the professionals and turn their ideas into saleable pitches.

E-mail your film pitch idea to us at by 15th October.

1 page only, with:

  • your name, age and address
  • a tag line for your film if you have one
  • the story, the character(s)
  • how you are going to tell the story
  • if you have stills or a trailer or any samples, you can attach them – they may be useful as part of your pitch.

Good Luck!



Africa Movie Academy Award Winner Set to Make North American Debut

Portrait of Akosua by Mantse Aryeequaye

Portrait of Akosua by Mantse Aryeequaye

The Huffington Post recently named Akosua Adoma Owusu “Most Promising Filmmaker” at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and one of the “Top 30 Black Contemporary Artists Under 40”. Her semi-autobiographical film, Kwaku Ananse has been winning awards of its own on the international stage this year. Now, both film and filmmaker are headed to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where Kwaku Ananse will make its North American debut.
Kwaku Ananse is one of a handful of shorts being featured in the program titled ‘To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent’, which showcases remarkably uncanny and fiercely contemporary African stories.

Call for Submissions | Nollywood Free Zine



This November Film Africa is planning a series of film screenings and events to celebrate 21 years of Nollywood. They are compiling a free ‘zine that shares stories about, and insights into, the last 21 years of Nigerian video film. They are looking especially for texts discussing Nollywood consumption and production in the UK.



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