Filmmakers capture local events on camera
| May 10th 2012
By Nicholas Anyuor
Land grabbing in Kisumu has become commonplace in the last few years with the Ministry of Lands officials accused of giving fake title deeds to those purchasing parcels of land in the town.
A few individuals have also been blamed for irregularly possessing and acquiring large parcels of land, but the authorities concerned have decided to ignore the complaints.
This has become so rampant and irritating that the Kisumu Lakers Art Group decided to pick it as a theme for their film launched last weekend.
The film, Upon a Time, mirrors the corrupt deals on land cases in Kisumu. Land grabbing is presented as the work of the devil, which is later overpowered by people of good will.
The film’s villain is Mr Otieng’ Otieng’, a rich man in the lakeside town and is so connected with the powers-that-be that no one can stand on his way when exercising his dubious deeds.
He is ready to kill for the sake of land and does not care whether the land he has grabbed is in the waters of Lake Victoria and is under the water hyacinth.
As the story of the greedy man unfolds, Otieng’ joins a group of people trying to eradicate the hyacinth from the lake. The group receives a lot of money to do this work but greedy Otieng’ pockets the money.
No one questions him as he is ready to kill whoever asks about the incomplete job.
However, all that glitters is not gold. The resolution ends with a martial artist, Abna, who goes out to fight Otieng’ and his group. Abna, the film’s hero, succeeds and goes ahead to rename the city — to cut it from its evil past and usher it into a new era of hope.
The launch of the film in Kisumu attracted many film watchers who filled the hall.
Officials from the Government and American Embassy lauded the group’s efforts to strongly capture the land grabbing issue on film.
The film is seen as a breakthrough for filmmakers in western Kenya, which has been recognised as an area with a variety of filmic sceneries.
The group’s director, Napoleon Were, says the region’s sceneries should be utilised for powerful films with strong messages that could bring change to the society.
“The Upon a Time film gives a clear picture of corruption in many sectors of government. But this can change if the masses are determined to end corruption,” says Were.
Frank Olawo, a film lover, described the film as fabulous with a relevant message of what is affecting people not only in Kisumu, but also in other parts of the country.
“We are happy to have such a film for Kenyans. If we can denounce corruption through the work of art like this, then Kenya is moving ahead,” he says.
Maureen Akinyi, a resident of Nyalenda Estate in Kisumu, says Upon a Time is a good film that could have competed internationally had shooting been done with the best cameras.
“The action and spiritual part where evil is defeated come out well and anyone can love it. I love it, it is wonderful,” she says.
Nyanza regional director, Films Services, Mr Vincent Onyango says the film is well-documented and challenged the group to come up with more films in the region.
“The region has enough scenery for film shooting and this can be utilised to attract more tourists to the area. We are happy we can have a thing of the sort from this region,” he says.
He appealed to the Kisumu Lakers Art Group to always consult with his office for professional support on technical aspects and to work together as a team during the shooting of films.
“The film you have shown us today is a clear indication that good things can also come from this region. We have been waiting for such a moment,” he said.
Bryant Fojtik from the American Embassy says the film’s message was relevant to many countries and urged filmmakers to come up with more of such creativity.
He says it was necessary to fund filmmakers for them to succeed and also to provide necessary guidance so that more of quality films can be produced.
“This is a great piece of work and we expect more to come,” he adds.
Some of the film’s scenes include the recently launched Kisumu International Airport, the town streets and buildings as well as Lake Victoria.
The National Library’s American Corner coordinator Mr Moses Mwandihi says that many film lovers, including those in America will be visiting the region to have the feel of what has been produced in the region.
He says film industries should not concentrate only in Nairobi, but should spread to other areas such as Kisumu, among other towns, so that they can take advantage of the sceneries.
“There are so many areas in the country that have good sceneries for shooting film. This is what we have to take care of. It is time the film industry must spread out.”
For now, the filmmakers are basking in glory for breaking new grounds and getting positive reviews.
Film boldly tackles issues swept under the carpet
Upon a Time has been written by Simon Muga, who is also the film’s hero, Abna. He also contributed in the production of the film, which was directed by Napoleon Were.
Producer Kisumu Lakers Art Group has also developed some other films such as Bed Wet, Irresponsible-X and Whose Mistake? Will Reap What You Sow, which have not been launched officially, but are selling in the streets.
Bed Wet was written by Were, the director Kisumu Lakers Group, and is discussing a serious problem of bed wetting, which girls and women have been facing in silence.
“This is something people have not taken seriously, but marriages have failed because of this and many girls have even dropped out of schools as a result,” he says.
Actors in this film are students from the Great Lakes University of Kisumu. The story revolves around a school girl tormented by her bed wetting situation.
The group has grown from an idea by Muga and Were who wanted Kisumu to produce good filming ground.
“The film industry in this region has been neglected. What we see are films shot and performed by people from other places. Kisumu has talented young men and women and it is rich in film sceneries,” says Muga, who is a script writer and actor.
The Irresponsible-X, scripted and directed by the two, castigates men who go out with women, have children and later run away for fear of taking responsibility.
“Many men enjoy remaining single. This is what the story is about and it advises men to be responsible,” says Muga.
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