The makers of Oscar nominated movieWatu Wote, Germany’s Hamburg Media School, are not a happy lot after the chief executive of the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) sponsored the screening of the film in the US without their permission.
The school was forced to issue a statement against self-proclaimed ‘moral police’, Dr Ezekiel Mutua, following reports that the film was aired publicly without their consent.
“After a lot of people asking on social media and in the public domain, we are forced to issue the following statement, related to the screening of Watu Wote on 8th of March sponsored by Ezekiel Mutua and KFCB in in Las Vegas,” the school said in a statement.
“As the owners of all copyrights for Watu Wote, want to point out very clear that KFCB and Dr Mutua had no rights...this screening was an illegal act and a copyright infringement,” read part of the statement.
It added that all copyright for the film and the rights to exhibit it privately or in public lie with the school.
“For distribution in all American territories, Shorts International, an entity of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars) hold the privileges,” they stated.
The also said that Dr Mutua did not attend the Oscars or participate in anything to do with the film as he has been claiming on social media.
“Contrary to this claims Dr Mutua was not in attendance at the ceremony, and did not participate in the Oscars with us. He never received an invitation and never was asked to join us. This was an extraordinary privilege for our cast and crew members.”
The school has so far written a letter to the Head of Civil Service and copied it to KFCB and relevant ministries.
The movie is based on a true story: The events of December 21, 2015, when Al-Shabaab militants attacked a bus en route to Mandera from Nairobi.
The attack was not the first of its kind. Al-Shabaab militants had been on the rampage with up to 60 separate incidences between 2011 and 2014.
When it involved public killings, their modus operandi was to separate Christians and Muslims and kill the Christian passengers. Often, they would ask victims to recite passages from the Quran to ensure Christians did not pretend to be Muslim.
Dr Mutua is yet to respond to the accusation, with phone calls to him going unanswered.
In 2017, the KFCB boss faced criticism from industry insiders for joyriding to France for the 70th edition of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
The claims were made by two main actors of a Kenyan film that was picked for screening at the event.
The two, Joyce Maina and Brian Ogola, who starred in the short film Neophobia, also blamed him for joyriding to the event yet his board had contributed nothing to the project.