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Sundance Film Festival in Kenya

By | July 8th 2011

Film lovers have an opportunity to enjoy free films from around the world and interact with experienced film producers in a week-long festival, writes By Kiundu Waweru

The Afghan Star, and the Boy from New Zealand will Take the Last Train Home from Canada to Kenya, where A Small Act, from US began.

On board will be the Free Riders, also from US and the Son of Babylon, Iraq, who will pick Udaan in India creating a culturally diverse group.

The destination will be the Film Forward Festival, conveniently themed, Advancing Cultural Dialogue. The above italicized are all part of 10 international films that will be showing at the film festival from July 14 to 21 by the Sundance Institute in partnership with FilmAid International.

The films will be showing every day for the entire week at Goethe Institute, Alliance Francaise, Mathare and Kibera slums with workshops from visiting filmmakers at the Godowns Art Centre.

There will also be short films made by refugees from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

"We usually have our festival in June during the World Refugee Day," explains Victor Ombonya, FilmAid Kenya Program Director. But this year we pushed the festival to July to accommodate them."

Film Forward is an international cultural exchange program designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding, collaboration and dialogue around the globe by engaging audiences.

FilmAid International is a humanitarian organisation that uses the power of film to educate, entertain, and bring hope to refugees.

Reminiscent of watoto kaeni chini days of film screening, FilmAid uses large outdoor screens to present feature films with universal appeal that provide psychological relief to communities ravaged by war and displacement.

Victor says that Film Forward travels to 14 destinations around the world, screening a selection of five US films and five international films. Kenya is one of the destinations where filmmakers are presenting their work, engage in question and answer sessions and workshops. Coming to Kenya will be the director of A Small Act, Jennifer Arnold, and Taika Waititi, an indigenous filmmaker from New Zealand with his film Boy. Cajetan Boy, a local filmmaker will also be facilitating the workshops.

A Small Act tells the moving story of Chris Mburu, whose education was sponsored by a Swedish woman. After graduating from Harvard, he establishes an education fund.

In Boy, when an 11-year-old boy’s father returns home after many years away, the boy and his little brother must reconcile reality with the fantasy dad they created in their imagination.

Afghan Star made in Afghanistan and UK is directed by Havana Marking and is based on reality TV. After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to television in Afghanistan. Millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. This film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing.

Film Aid also conducts filmmaker training Participatory Video Program (PVP), targeting the youths. Joining the international films are the products of the PVP, including Past Midnight made by Sharif Mohammed Muhamud, 20, from Baidoa, Somali. Others from Kakuma Refugee Camp are Choice of My Life and Bale Bale Village, written by Batacane Jean Mecheal, 24, from DRC Congo.

There will be daytime free screening at the said venues followed by question and answer sessions with the filmmakers.

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