The Fourth Edition of the Lake International Pan African Film Festival (LIPAFF) 2019 is set for Nakuru in November this year.
The highlight of the three-day event that kicks off on November 6 and includes screening of over 100 films, panel discussions, master classes, workshops, and exhibitions will be gala event to fete best films and artists from the continent in the past one year.
More than 10 African countries are expected to participate in the festival previously known as the Lake International Poetry and Film Festival (LIPFF), which recognizes films in any African Languages with English Subtitles made in Africa. It only accepts feature films, short films, documentaries, and animation films.
County Gender, Culture and Social Services Chief Officer, Ms Tumme Abduba, noted that Nakuru will be hosting the event for a third time in a row at the invitation of Governor Lee Kinyanjui and sponsorship of various organisations including the County government .
The venture is crafted to market the region as a movie making and performing arts destination.
Ms Abduba noted that the festival comes barely weeks before Nakuru hosts the much-acclaimed musical Sarafina a re-enactment of a popular South African anti-apartheid musical film by the same name that was released in 1988.
“In hosting these events we want to reassert ourselves as the ultimate Tourism, Cultural and Film hub in the Country. We are keen to enlighten the youth on the power of film for social change and to sensitize young performers and film makers that the enterprise is a multimillion money making venture.
There will be an awards ceremony which celebrates the best films in the last year. The awards on offer this year are Best Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Kenyan Film, Best Documentary, Best Animated Film and Best Director.
Other categories that will be feted include Best Cinematography, Best Scriptwriter, Best Score, Best Sound Design, Best Editor, Best Production Design, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Children themed film, Best Social Change Themed Film, Best Film on African Cultural Issues, and Jury’s Award,” noted Ms Abduba
Founded in 2016 by Dr Zippy Okoth, the Lake International Pan African Film Festival is (LIPFF), hosted annually in different regions in Kenya on condition that they host a Lake. The County is home to the world famous Lake Nakuru National Park and Bird Sanctuary.
Nominees to this year’s awards are from a diverse number of countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, and Zambia. Others are from Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Congo.
“Youths in Nakuru County will have an opportunity to attend a master class session from the Director and producer of the musical “Sarafina”, Stuart Nash from the Nairobi Performing Arts Studio. He will take them through Acting, Directing and Producing in an initiative fully supported by Governor Kinyanjui.
Some of the youth will be cast in the Musical to be showcased at the Nakuru Players Theatre in commemoration of the 70 years the facility has been in existence. They will also be considered for auditions in forthcoming re-enactments of the “Lion King” and “Nairobi half Life,” said the Chief Officer.
The Nairobi Half Life is a 2012 Kenyan drama film directed by David “Tosh” Gitonga about an aspiring actor who travels from upcountry to Nairobi but ends up in a crime web.
Stuart announced that Nairobi Performing Arts Studio will also stage The Lion King, a Kenyan-shot sequel animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation.
“Nakuru has numerous factors that favour it as a film making destination. It has untapped talent, the necessary geographical features and an active Players Theatre. Sustained stage play shows here will revive performing arts in the country which has been overshadowed by westernized cinemas,” he stated.
County Governor Lee Kinyanjui confirmed that his administration had approached organisers of the event after realising that the devolved unit was teeming with aspiring artists whose talent was untapped.
“The County Directorate of Culture is partnering with the Kenya Film Commission, Kenya Film and Classification Board in marketing Nakuru as a film making destination.
We have received recognition and possible partnerships from the French Embassy as they have expressed interests in training Nakuru Artists on Animation production .There is also an anticipated Memorandum of Understanding between the county and the Kenya Film Commission where the latter will undertake to train Artists in Nakuru on Film Making,” stated Mr Kinyanjui.
In the recent past Nakuru has witnessed a flurry of activities that have rekindled interest in theatre, performing arts and film production.
Hollywood producer and composer Elvin Ross, whose work include the Documentary “Kunta Kinteh Island” and productions for popular Televangelist T.D Jakes and Tyler Perry visited Nakuru County early this year on a mission to produce a film and mentor upcoming film makers in company of Toussaint Duchess, an actress in “Fred Hammond Christmas”.
The screening will take place at the Nakuru Players Theatre, at the city’s Kenya National Library Services and in two social halls, one at Bondeni, one at Kaptembwa.
Dr. Okoth who has vast experience in acting, directing, producing and scriptwriting says that the support she gets from her team is the reason she has been able to achieve this milestone alluding to the fact that even selecting which films out of the more than a thousand entries to make it to the shortlist was not an easy task.
“All the films have to be made in African languages,” says Dr Okoth, who adds that English is not included among the languages that qualified.
“All the films must have English sub-titles,” she concedes. But otherwise, the languages that one will hear during the festival range from Kiswahili and Hausa to Xhosa, Afro-Franco and Maa.
Last year, Kinyanjui officially inaugurated the Nakuru Players Theatre after months of renovation where a modern recording studio was set up. The county is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with Kabarak University to refocus music and other performing arts for sustainable development.
Under the partnership, the university’s School of Music and Performing Arts and the Nakuru Players’ Theatre will work closely in nurturing talent and knowledge sharing among artists.
By Anne Mwale