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Monday, March 29, 2010

The 'Why' Of Makmende!

As i write this, someone somewhere online must be adding another Makmende-ism such as 'Makmende ordered Pizza in Kenchic AND GOT IT!'. People have speculated why he has become such a success and some have attributed it to Just-A-Band's innovation as a group, which is true but to me, I daresay, that isnt the whole story.

The underlying story to Makmende's success (I add again, according to me) has been his function in the eyes of the young people of today. As Kenya's first super hero, he represents what many of us hope that our own leaders would. The term 'super-hero' was coined in 1917 and as per Wikipedia, is used to describe 'a type of stock character possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers" and dedicated to protecting the public'.

So far, none of our leaders have portrayed this character trait, thus the need for Makmende. Super-heroes are mostly needed in a time of great crisis, which is why, starting with 'Superman', they became really famous in American literature of the 1930's. The Great depression had hit; crime, bootlegging and the whole 'man-eat-man' philosophy was on full swing.

Being a lover of all films old, the first time I watched the 'Ha-He' video, I was reminded of Bernie Casey in 'Hitman' and the 70's era of Blaxploitation when films were made to target Black America. They either re-did films like 'Get Carter', 'The Defiant Ones', 'Dracula' or they wrote their own like Shaft, Super Fly and Detroit 9000. Films were so made because despite the amount of quality that came out of Hollywood during its undisputed Golden Age, the black community still felt left out because they were still being raised to look up to the white man - which didnt help, considering the rampant racism then.

Makmende, therefore, is this to us; our very own 'Kenyasploited' super hero. A man who has stepped in and filled the gap left by statesmen such as Tom mboya and JM Kariuki. A man incorruptible, sticking to his own moral code that all young people identify with.

On the flip side, one may ask 'How is it that someone who once went to the British Virgin Islands and left them called the British Islands can suddenly become a role model?' This is where our colonised history comes into play. African stories have heroe's. However, our heroes are born heroes and aside from the very small majority, remain heroic throughout their lives. This is because our stories had purpose. They were deliberately instructional. The majority did not factor in the inherrent human ability to be flawed because we needed to raise our children with a perfect ideal because, unfotunately, failure did not just involve them but rather, they had to shoulder the responsibility of knowing that their actions reverberated through the whole community. European education brought us a culture different from ours. From Macbeth to Falstaff and even the Greek heroes like Oedipus and even the biblical Samson, were all men who as Africans, we were taught to hate but because we are all fundamentally human, we grew to love because despite their flaws, they worked at improving things in their little sphere of influence.

We look up to Makmende not because he is of such high moral character that he is incorruptible, rather, he is so bad that corruption is below him! He does not have a large following because he is a stand up guy, rather, because he has such a short temper that not following him is just not an option. we trust our wives, girlfriends and daughter with him not because he has taken a vow of celibacy but because he knows he is such a good lover that he is picky over who he chooses to 'bless' with his ability.

At the end of the day thats who we all want. Not a man (or woman) we cannot identify with because they do not have any flaws, instead, a person who despite their flaws, works through them to attain the greater good. Remember John Rambo? Clint Eastwood as Blondie? Lwanda Magere? Batman with all his inner demons and even recently, Hancock?

We all love Makmende because he shows us that if we applied ourselves as he does, knowing we are full of error but not focussing on them, we could actually find ourselves becoming better people.

I hope an MP reads this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sojourner Documentary and Short Film Festival : Call for Entries!!!

Sojourner Documentary and Short Film Festival (SDSFF) is a one-week annual event to be hosted in the month of August. It one of the activities of Sojourner Ltd whose aim is:

-Showcasing distinct African points of view through quality, engaging visual media narratives (documentaries, experimental film, animation, short film and video productions)
-To foster mutual understanding between cultures
-Heighten awareness of the art, craft and business of filmmaking
-Midwife networking, training, sponsorship and distribution opportunities for both upcoming and established practitioners and stakeholders in visual media.
-Have a strong hand in the development of an arts micro-economy in our area of operation
The festival is also an important debuting arena for upcoming documentary and short filmmakers in the East and Central African region

The innaugural Festival, which is scheduled to take place from August 10th - 17th at the Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi, KENYA, has launched its call for entries today. We are looking for documentaries and short films created between July 2009 and July 2010.

Details of the submission terms and conditions can be obtained here as well as the Festival Submission form. The early submission deadline is June 1st 2010 and the final deadline is the June 15th 2010.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Voices from the Tube

A blogger I respect and whose blogs i tend to follow closely asked my opinion about a certain show currently showing on Kenyan TV. He happened to watch a bit of the politically satirical show on You Tube but because the show is directed to specificallyKenyan audiences, he failed to appreciate the nuances inherent in the content and thus asked my honest opinion.

While generally posted, this blog speaks to the questions he directed to me. The show is called XYZ show and airs on Citizen TV which is arguably one of Kenya's largest TV stations in terms of reach. The show airs every Sunday at 9.45 pm. I must acknowledge and give credit to the fact that the show is the first of its kind on kenyan TV and respect must be given to this. The show is done on animation and tends to be a socio-political spoof of life and events in Kenya. The technical quality of production in terms of sound and picture quailty is really good which is another positive fact that one should not overlook.

I must confess I happened to watch for the first time last night. This was without prior knowledge that my blog pal had requested my opinion about the show. ( Talk about coincidence).
My first off impression was fascination about the quality of the show in terms of animation which is very new to the local TV production scene in Kenya. Once past the fascination of the animation, I found that the content failed to hold my interest, connect with me or engage me as an audience. As a socio political spoof show , humor ideally should be the hook that captures audience but in this case, humor comes across as mindless, illogical or simply stupid action on the screen. As if in evidence to this fact, at some point my husband in between laughter remarked "This show is really stupid". I would imagine this would be a compliment to the Production becuase it provoked laughter in a viewer. However beyond that moment, it seemed only natural for us to flick over to more substantial entertainment having enjoyed that brief flight of fancy that failed to arouse an appetite for more.

In my thinking, I am not sure who the target audience is nor am I certain that the Producers are sure who their target audience is. The content fails to connect with the audiences as well as give them something to go away with....substance, food for thought...whatever it is you want to call it. That politicians sometimes ( nay most times) behave ridicoulousy is not new or fresh. But the treatment, underlying themes, ideas communicated to audiences should be. Why do I suggest this?
Because political satire by its nature speaks to an audience that is fairly mature, and exposed. To use childish humor that is poorly developed will not hold the audience's attention. Infact at some point the content may become a tad irritating to watch. Political satire needs to be treated with a peppering of fact, wit, fresh perspective or take -out: The achievement of some underlying objective and not just mindless visual gimmicks that lead to the feeling of "stooping to idiocy" by audiences. This seeming insult of intelligence causes us as an audience to switch off.

Does that mean that we as Kenyan audiences are stuck-up and stuffy and fail to appreciate satire as a genre of entertainment? Hardly! think of film documentaries by icons such Michael Moore who manages to treat serious national issues with wit, humor, satire and yet manages to give you something to reflect on. This is an example of a good treatment of socio-political satire. If needs be embellish abit, if you have to, just make sure you are backed by an underlying credible fact and let the audiences appreciate your end objective. They'll love you more ( or at least love your production more for it)

What then for the XYZ show? There is room to grow and conquer the airwaves. The production team have their work cut out for them in pre-production. Its back to the drawing board and ask who is my audience? What appeals to them? How do I connect with them, define an objective for the show and its audiences. Research facts and opinions about national sentiment on issues then develop scripts and sequences becuase from the production last night there is a clear lack of some logical connection or coherence to the sequences. This tends to make audiences frustrated and impatient with your content delivery becuase we have no idea (subconsciously) where you are leading us ultimately.

As a parting shot, me thinks the timing also does not add value to the show. Sunday night at 9.45pm is a poor time to feed audiences with political satire after a whole week being bombarded with politics in different forms and shapes in the media. friday or Saturday night would be more palatable for audiences. To stir a hornet's nest, i dare ask do TV stations have the courage to do away with latin soaps and favor local productions that boast quality content????

Friday, February 6, 2009

Alliance Francaise hosting TWO Film Festivals in May 2009

The Alliance Fraincaise will be definitely busy come March...As always, though, they shall not let us down. The Festivals and additional info are below.


6 – 10 May

Alliance Fran├žaise auditorium: Entrance Free

The Embassy of Cuba presents the 5th Cuban Film Festival in Nairobi offering a menu of popular and critically acclaimed films

THE SILLY AGE (2006 – 1h48) drama

Tue. 6 at 6.30pm

Rejection of a grandchild by a grandmother set in her ways.

AMANDA’S PROPHECIES ( 1999 – 1h30) drama

Thur. 8 at 6.30pm

A film of psychological reflection about popular life in Cuba today

HONEY FOR OSHUN (2001 – 1H48) drama

Fri. 9 at 6.30pm

Roberto returns to Cuba from the US in search of his mother


Sat. 10 at 11am ( 2007 – 1h20) drama

The friendship between two children is threatended by their parents’ differences


Sat. 10 at 6.30pm ( 2006- -3h15) drama

Individual dimensions combine with social context in the last decade of the 20th century in Cuba


14 May – 1 June (except 16, 19 and 30 May)

Weekdays: 5.30 and 7.30pm, Weekend: 3, 5.30 and 7.30pm

Tickets: 30/-

Showing recent films from 18 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom).

Detailed programme available from Alliance Fran├žaise.

Worlds of the Indian Ocean Festival

A celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Aga Khan University, presented by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, East Africa, running 19-23 February। The Festival features explorations of the Indian Ocean cultural realm। The event will be hosted in Nairobi from February 19 to 23, 2009. The Worlds of the Indian Ocean (WIO 2009) is a showpiece arts and science festival and conference that will bring some of the most unusual minds and thinkers to Nairobi to debate, discuss, celebrate, explore, imagine roles and responsibilities (local, regional and global) against a backdrop of the Indian Ocean as a geographical and metaphorical space of opportunity in the twenty first century.

Our five day event, hosted largely at the National Museums of Kenya space, shall combine strategic and practical workshops, intellectual explorations, public and cultural expression and business forums. Emphasis is being placed on the facilitation of productive linkages among peoples on different edges of the Indian Ocean.The lectures are broad-ranging, engaging and agenda-setting rather than narrowly focused. A one-day strategic business forum will involve specialists presenting ideas around biodiversity, security, marine ecology and economies, new and digital technology including nanotechnology and nanoscience and futures literacy which shall involve profiles of a new generation of thinkers and actors who are involved in innovative ventures in this region.

Our goal, is to stimulate a wide range of encounters to stimulate the creativity and imagination that emerges when different worlds meet. We are inviting business leaders, academicians, scientists, technologists, future thinkers, diplomats, journalists, artists, development innovators and environmental experts and educationalists to grab a hold of and roll with the ideas while considering the implications of the regionally under-imagined resource that the Indian Ocean is.
More details and festival programme coming shortly

Creating a Curriculum Guide for Your Documentary Film

By Jessica Schoenbaechler

Preproduction is the perfect time to begin writing a curriculum/discussion guide to accompany your documentary film. Although you may not have all the tools necessary to complete the guide, you can certainly identify concepts and themes of the film that should be included in one; this work can only hone the final film itself...PDF of Creating a Curriculum Guide for Your Documentary Film suitable for printing

Sony's HVR-Z5U

Stepping Up with Sony's HVR-Z5U

A B&H Roundup
By David Speranza

Sony likes to release its higher-end camcorders in twos, so it was no surprise when last September's announcement of the prosumer HDR-FX1000 included specs on the pro-level HVR-Z5U. These two HDV cameras are nearly identical in terms of build and imaging, but the Z5U offers some important step-ups for professional shooters. The most significant are dual XLR audio, native progressive 24p/30p, DVCAM recording, SMPTE timecode support, and full docking ability with Sony's new HVR-MRC1K compact flash recorder.

But let's review the similarities. In our hands-on look at the HDR-FX1000, we noted all the great new features and improvements Sony brought to its replacement of the prosumer HDR-FX1. Those same upgrades apply to the HVR-Z5U, which we were also lucky enough to spend some face-time with prior to its official December release.

Like the FX1000, the Z5U has Sony's new G-Series 20x wide-angle lens (72mm filter), three Exmor-enhanced 1/3" CMOS sensors (1120k pixels apiece), low-light sensitivity down to 1.5 lux, dedicated zoom/focus/iris rings, three built-in ND filters, and the same Xtra Fine 3.2" LCD screen found on the flagship HVR-Z7U (with an outstanding 921K pixels of resolution). Both cameras also shoot in 24p/30p progressive modes to produce a more cinematic look, but where the FX1000 uses what Sony calls "progressive scan," the Z5U also offers native progressive mode. (The difference, as will be explained later, is less about image quality than how that image is recorded and edited.) One feature not previously mentioned is the 1.5x digital extender, which extends the zoom range to 30x with a minimal loss of quality.

Limited to a preproduction model for this review, we were unable to shoot actual footage to test out the camera's specs against real-world results. But there was more than enough in the Z5U's build and control set to determine what makes it different from its prosumer sibling.

Let's Get Physical or watch the video here