Film premiers signal bright future for the industry

With no less than three Kenyan films premiering in a single week, this has been a fabulous time for appreciating the vitality of the local film industry as well as the calibre and quality of the talent we have.

It began last Friday night with the grand premier of Et cetera Productions’ Strata which was scripted, directed and finally produced by Cajetan Boy.

A superb murder mystery with a female sleuth in search of answers to her fiance’s murder, the film stars Sabina Stadler and Gilbert Lukalia with a supporting cast of Veronica Waceke, Omfwoko Aswani and Elchie Virani as the dirty cop.

Joe Kinyua is also there as the judgmental and racist policeman whose refusal to investigate Zeal’s murder drives Jaz (short for Jasmine) into conducting an ad hoc investigation of her own. And it’s one which nearly gets her killed more than once.

Despite having limited resources, Cajetan (who also made Captain of Nakara and several other stunning films) manages to produce a compelling story, proving that even on a shoe string budget, Kenyan filmmakers can make amazing movies that deserve to be seen by a wider audience.

The following day, Spotlight on Kenyan Music Volume 6 was launched at the Mombasa International Cultural Festival, courtesy of Alliance Francaise, the French Embassy and Total Kenya in partnership with Ketebul Music and the Kenyan Ministry of Culture.

Highlighting the musical diversity of the Kenyan Coast, Vol. 6 of Spotlight features both audio and video DVDs, the latter a fascinating documentary, fully filmed and scripted by Khamis Ramadhan.

Narrated in English by Margaret Gachuhi and in French by John Sibi-Okumu, the film features all the musical groups included on the accompanying CD (most of whom performed last Saturday at the Festival. They included Kombe & the Afro Simba Band (which backed up all the other groups), Nyota Ndogo, Lelele Africa and Zigidigi Cultural Troupe.

But the video includes much more than just music since Ramadhan researched Coastal history, enabling us to put the music into a broader socio-political context.

Finally, last night the long-awaited film premiere of Veve by the producers of Nairobi Half Life (One Fine Day Film and Ginger Ink together with DW Akademie) was screened at the Cinemax Theatre at The Junction. It stars Lowry Odhiambo, Emo Rugene, Lizz Njagah and Conrad Makeni.