What you need to know:
- Hollywood shooting films in Kenya has an obvious economic advantage.
- We have been losing out on this economic advantage to Nigeria and South Africa.
- It’s a well-known fact that KFCB refused to air Wanuri Kahiu’s movie Rafiki in Kenyan cinemas and screens.
According to www.kenyans.co.ke, Uhuru Kenyatta signed a film incentives package during a Cabinet meeting that is going to help foreign filmmakers make more movies in Kenya.
Apparently, Kenya is a great place to shoot films, because we have great actors (obviously), and Hollywood shooting films in Kenya has an obvious economic advantage.
We have been losing out on this economic advantage to Nigeria and South Africa, where the majority of African-shot films are filmed.
The head of KFCB (Kenya Film Classification Board) also added that lack of incentives and tax rebates has been the weakest point in selling Kenya as a top filming destination.
This whole signing and dramatic comment-giving left me questioning the point of these incentives.
First of all, anything that the head of the KFCB supports is generally a white elephant, in my opinion; he’s either getting something out of it, or he’s getting something out of it.
Two, if these two are so concerned about films being made in Kenya, then why haven’t they supported the films that have already been made in Kenya, by Kenyans, and the filmmakers making them?
It’s a well-known fact that KFCB refused to air Wanuri Kahiu’s movie Rafiki in Kenyan cinemas and screens, before a very public court battle, and even then, only for a week.
This has nothing to do with the subject matter, for this particular article, but everything to do with the hypocrisy being touted by such stories.
If Kenyan film was really being supported, then banning Kenyan movies with international recognition would not be an issue.
If Kenyan films were really being supported, not only should these incentives apply for Hollywood filmmakers, but for local ones as well, before anyone foreign need show their face.
If Kenyan films were really being supported, then the Kenya Film Commission would not have had to be consistently begging for these incentives during all the years of their existence.
The KFC basically asks the government to let Kenyan creativity thrive.
Why is this something that has to be asked for? Is the government not supposed to be for Kenyans? Or are we just now selling the country piecemeal with every railway track laid?
DSTV, which airs all over Africa, is showing Rafiki on its programming in all countries – except Kenya.
What form of neo-colonialism is this, where we will definitely welcome these Hollywood movies with all kinds of characters, nuances, personalities and types, in them, without batting an eyelid, but not our own?
The sycophancy is sickening.
It’s hard enough to make movies in Kenya – getting permits, to begin with, getting certification, getting a good crew, selling the movie to our local television stations and streaming services, making sure you can find writers, actors, locations, dealing with minor competitive cartels and exploitation, to name but a few basic hurdles.
But once again, we filmmakers in Kenya are forced to watch when our voices are misrepresented, and only when Big Pharma – sorry, Big Hollywood, comes calling.
How many times must we prove ourselves?