Out of Kenya

The African Movie Academy Awards nominations gala goes down tonight in Nairobi with over 300 entries. SHlRLEY GENGA delves into Kenya’s stab at the silver screen

Some of Africa’s top movie actors and actresses will tonight wine and dine with fans during the Seventh Academy nominations gala at Nairobi’s Ole Sereni Hotel. Nollywood star Rita Dominic and celebrated Ghanaian actress Jackie Appiah are expected to join Mercy Johnson, Ini Edo, Mike Monsuruye, Kate Henshaw, Olu Jacobs, Lynda Forson and Ramsey Nouah.

The climax of the night will be a concert at Carnivore to be headlined with award-winning twins P Square and J Martins.

Ida Onyango

As African Movie Academy Awards nominate the stars in African Cinema, Tinseltown will celebrate their own with gongs on Sunday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood where the crËme de la crËme of the film world will come together.

As the 83rd Academy Awards beckon, no Kenyan movie is slated for the coveted awards.

There is only one African film in contention, Hors-la-loi (Outside the Law) from Algeria, which chronicles the life of three brothers fighting in Algeria’s war of independence against France. The film is up against Biutiful (Mexico), Dogtooth (Greece), In a Better World (Denmark) and Incendies from Canada. Dogtooth has a higher chance of winning, as it has appeared on over 25 critics top ten lists and was one of the most acclaimed films at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Sadly, since the inception of the Academy Awards, only three movies— filmed in Africa but not directed by Africans— have won Oscars. They include the 1969 political thriller ‘Z’ from Algeria, which was directed by Costa Gavras from Greece. The 1976 release Black and White in Colour from Cote d’ivoire directed by Frenchman Jean-Jacques Annaud and the South African Tstosi directed by Gavin Hood.

The closest that Kenya has come to winning an Oscar was through its ‘local association’ in two films. Sidney Pollack’s 1985 film, Out of Africa that was shot in Kenya and starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford that won the Best Picture Academy Award. Again in 2002, Nowhere in Africa, a German language film that was shot in Kenya went on to win the 2003 Academy Award for Best Foreign language film. The Academy award was for Germany not Kenya despite being shot here.

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Edi Gathegi

In fact, Kenya seems to be only good as a shooting location for foreign filmmakers. Since the1930s many classic adventure films have been shot in Kenya, including: The Snows of Kilimanjaro, King Solomon’s Mines, Born Free, To Walk with Lions, King Solomon’s Mines, Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, Mugambo, The Wilby Conspiracy, Master of the Game, Kitchen Toto, Cry Freedom, White Mischief, The Life of Hemmingway, Besieged, Forbidden Territory, Constant Gardener, White Maasai, I Dreamed of Africa and Tomb Raider.

Lenny Juma a veteran actor and an International casting director who has been in the film industry since 1970 believes that Kenya has a lot of things going for it in terms of actors and location.

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