\\ Kenya’s Smartphone Film Competition enters its 3rd year

Capitalizing on mobile phone penetration in Africa, the competition seeks to award the best cinematographers whose talents are locked out due to the expensive movie industry

Kenya’s smartphone users will this month put their film making skills as they prepare for the Alliance Francaise Film by Smartphone Competition. The competition, #Sheisnambaone, is open for submission the whole of September.

The competition, whose inaugural awards were in 2016 banks on the popularity of mobile phone penetration in Kenya to hunt for new talent in movie production. Movie production is an expensive endeavor and countries like Kenya, where cinematography has not reached levels of the kind of Nigeria, many talents are being wasted or remain underutilised. 24 Kenyans submit their short films to the competition under the theme of Rebellious Spirit in 2016 and out of the 24, 12 were selected to be screened during the French film festival week in Kenya.

Riding on a thrilling 4 minute satirical movie called the Squad would clinch the top prize followed by the Rebelious Spirit by Allan Ondara; the two films displayed the theme of the year by making the themes and characters deviate from the norm. The Squad displays curiosity and courage in confronting the unknown while Rebellious Spirit displays utter arrogance and disregard to set rules.

Under the theme Storo Familia (Stories of the family), 2017 will also see 24 participants for the top Prize. Revolving around the mysterious disappearance of a government computer programmer, the winning short film A Family’s Creed explores a hacker daughter to trace her father’s whereabouts. The second film Torn, however, would revolve around a monster father figure, who molested his daughters sending them on the verge of committing suicide.

Besides the top two categories, the competition has the People’s Choice where audience get to pick their best film. In the inaugural fair, The Squad also won in this category while in 2017, Dear Family-based on a story touching on albinism carried the day.

In order to determine the quality of the art, the judges are picked from a pool of experienced film makers in Kenya. In 2016, the panelists include the 2009 5th Africa movie Academy winner for the movie ‘from a Whisper’ and the co-founder of AfroBubbleGum Wanuri Kahiu, Sam Soko- the writer of satirical Radio play New Bwana produced by BBC4 and co-founder Lightbox Africa a film production company in Kenya, and Ng’endo Mukii an award winning Film director best known for her documentary ‘Yellow Fever- which explores western influences on African women’s definition of beauty. 

Following the success of the first show, the second festival went a notch higher welcoming on the Jury Bench veteran producer, writer and editor Cajetan Boy, Judy Kibinge a multi-award winning filmmaker, director and Writer and Mwaniki Mageria the founder of Balozi Productions and an Emcee.

Since its inception, the competititon has had a long standing juror Rene Denis- a Regional Audiovisual Attache at the French Embassy in Kenya. Having worked as producer for various production houses in France, Rene has 30 years of experience in the movie industry. This year, he will team up with the executive producer of Zebra Productons – a company behind MNET’s drama series ‘Changes’ Njoki Muhoho, the 2018 winner of Zanzibar Film Festival Faith Musembi and self-taught cinematographer and Television Director Likarion Wainaina.

Submissions are expected in before or on September 30. The 4 minute films are to be submitted on the competition website; www.smartphonefilmcompetition.co.ke.

The overall winner carries home Kshs. 100,000, while the second is awarded Kshs. 50, 000 and the third, referred to as The People’s Choice, gets Kshs. 25,000. The awards ceremony is slated for October 12, at Allaince Francaise in Nairobi.       


Tweet: @AFNairobi@MusunguW

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