Smartphone Film Competition Enters its Third year

Building on mobile phone penetration in Africa, the competition seeks out cinematographers whose talent is locked out due to the expensive movie industry

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Kenya’s smartphone users will this month put their film making skills as they prepare for the Alliance Francaise Film by Smartphone Competition. The competition, #Sheisnambaone, is open for submission the whole of September. Those who wish to submit their 4 minute videos to the competition should do so before midnight 30th September on the competition website;

The competition, whose inaugural awards were in 2016 banks on the popularity of mobile phone penetration in Kenya to hunt for new talent in movie production. Movie production is an expensive endeavour and countries like Kenya, where cinematography has not reached the levels of Nigeria, many talents go to waste. 2016 saw 24 Kenyans submit their short films to the competition under the theme of Rebellious Spirit. Out of the 24, 12 were selected to be screened during the French film festival week in Kenya.

Riding on a thrilling 4 minute satirical movie called the Squad would clinch the top prize followed closed by the Rebelious spirit by Allan Ondara. Both films displayed the theme of the year by making the actors go against the norm. The Squad displays curiosity and courage in confronted the unknown while Rebellious Spirit displays arrogance and disregard to laid down rules. 

Under the theme ‘Storo  Familia’ (Stories of the family), 2017 will also see 24 participants for the top Prize. Revolving around the mysterious disappearance of a government computer programmer, the winning short film A Family’s Creed explores a hacker daughter to trace her father’s whereabouts. The second film Torn, however, would revolve around a monster dad, who molested his daughters sending them on the verge of committing suicide. 

Besides the top two categories, the competition has the People’s Choice. In this category, audience to the film festival vote for their best film. In 2016, Squad also won in this category while in 2017, Dear Family-based on a story touching on albinism carried the day. 

In order to determine the quality of the art, the organisers choose jury from a pool of experienced film makers in Kenya. In 2016, the panelists include the 2009 5th Africa movie Academy winner for the movie ‘from a Whisper’ and the co-founder of AfroBubbleGum Wanuri Kahiu, Sam Soko- the writer of satirical Radio play New Bwana produced by BBC4 and co-founder Lightbox Africa a film production company in Kenya, and Ng’endo Mukii an award winning Film director best known for her documentary ‘Yellow Fever- which explores western influences on African women’s definition of beauty.  

After the success of 2016 show, empowered by the interest in Kenyan film makers, the 2017 went a notch higher welcoming on the Jury Bench Veteran producer, writer and editor Cajetan Boy, Judy Kibinge a multi-award winning filmmaker, director and Writer and Mwaniki Mageria the founder of Balozi Productions and an Emcee. 

Since its inception, the competititon has had a long standing juror Rene Denis- a Regional Audiovisual Attache at the French Embassy in Kenya. Having work as producer for various production houses in France, Rene has 30 years of experience in the movie industry. This year, he will team up with the executive producer of Zebra Productons – a company behind MNET’s drama series ‘Changes’ Njoki Muhoho, the 2018 winner of Zanzibar Film Festival Faith Musembi and self-taught cinematographer and Television Director Likarion Wainaina. 

The completion awards winners in two categories. The overall winner carries home Kshs. 100,000, while the second is awarded Kshs. 50, 000 and the third, referred to as The People’s Choice, gets Kshs. 25,000. The awards gala will be held on 12th October at Allaince Francaise in Nairobi.       

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