The inaugural ‘Women in Film Awards’ night will be held March 4, just days before International Women’s Day on March 8.
According to Dr Susan Gitimu, founder of the Awards and Kenyatta University lecturer in film, there is a reason for inaugurating an ‘awards’ ceremony rather than a women’s film festival.
“We are not acknowledging only women’s films. We are acknowledging the achievements of individual women who are part of the whole filmmaking process,” says Dr Gitimu who is also founder of ‘Beyond the Film’ (BTF) which is especially focused on the genre of film for social change.
“We chose to name our organization ‘Beyond the film’ because we know most people associate film with entertainment alone. But our concern is promoting films that can make an impact on society and can change people’s thinking,” she adds.
Working closely with Grace Mercy Muruthi who is BTF’s creative director and Noel Awuor who is the ‘Women in Film Awards’ coordinator, Susan registered the awards late last year.
“We realised that there are so many amazing women working in film but they are largely unacknowledged,” she says.
That reality was illustrated last November at a conference organsed by the Alliance of Slum Media Organisation (ASMO) which named a myriad of Kenyan women in film. “It was a real eye-opener,” Susan recalls. But it also made her wonder why more women in film were unknown to the public.
Names like Judy Kibinge, Anne Mungai and Wanjiru Kinyanjui are women filmmakers who have received some recognition. But as is often the case, they are better known abroad than at home.
Susan together with Grace Mercy and Noel want to change all that. On December 15th, they put a ‘call out’ on social media for the public to nominate their favorite women in film for any one or all of 14 categories. The 14 include Best Producer, Director, Script writer, Actress and Cinematographer as well as Most Influential Woman in Film, Best Newcomer Producer, Sound/Set/Costume/Lighting Designers, Make-Up Artist and Best Animator.
The call-out closed January 15. A total of 2,400 names were submitted. After that, five judges selected five names in each category and again listed them on social media.
The judges include Zippy Okoth who is Chief adjudicator, Kenyatta University film lecturer and founder of the Lake International Pan-African Film Festival, Victoria Goro, Deputy Director of the Kenya Film School, Wangechi Murage, Media Consultant, Suki Wanza, actress and KU lecturer with Zippy in Theatre Arts and Rachel Mwara, lecturer at Multimedia University.
The second call-out invited the public to vote for one of the five in all 14 categories. The voting went from February 10 to 20, producing 6,500 submission!
The final tally is now with Dr. Susan who is holding the winning names until March 4th when Kenya National Theatre opens its door from 6pm. The Guest of honor will be Dr Josephine Ojiambo, Director of the Commonwealth Businesswomen of Kenya.
The evening will be MC’ed by Brenda Nyambeki and Joseph Ochieng.