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Kenyan filmmakers making big moves on global stage

Arts and Culture
 Documentary director Peter Murimi.

In November 2023, emerging Kenyan film directors and producers clinched multiple awards at the renowned 48 Hour Film Project. The ceremony is described as the world’s largest short film contest that happens in more than 100 cities each year.

Peter Murimi

Peter Murimi’s documentary, ‘The Battle For Laikipia’, recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

He co-directed the documentary alongside Daphne Matziaraki (Greece), making it a collaboration between Kenyan and international filmmakers.

A biography of the celebrated documentary director says that he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year in 2004 for his piece ‘Walk to Womanhood’, which deals with issues surrounding FGM.

“He worked as a freelancer on various NGO documentaries for the United Nations before coming on board permanently as a shooter director. He was a producer/Camera for the documentary ‘Slum Survivors’ saw him spend six months in the sprawling informal settlement in Kibera, filming the stories of people he met. The film went on to win global recognition and was the winner of the Tur Ostravo award in 2007.”

Murimi is also the director behind ‘I Am Samuel’, the story of a Kenyan man struggling to find a balance between his duty to his family and his dreams for the future.

Toni Kamau

Another celebrated Kenyan filmmaker involved with ‘The Battle for Laikipia’ is Toni Kamau, who was a producer on the project.

Toni has an impressive portfolio of work. She has won multiple awards and is a member of the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

A biography of the producer reads in part: “The Sundance Special Jury prize winner and POV co-production ‘Softie’, produced by Toni and directed by Sam Soko, premiered at Sundance in 2020 in the World Cinema Documentary Feature Competition and was selected as the opening night film at Hot Docs 2020.”

Toni opened up about her creative process saying passion is her driving force.

“As a creative producer, my first question is, “does this story move me?”. I strongly believe that you imbue your passion into your work, no matter the role, and especially as a producer and of course as a director. I work mostly based on instinct, but this instinct is also based on years of producing and consuming content.”

 Toni Kamau

Wanuri Kahiu

From TED talks to the World Economic Forum, Wanuri does not shy away from telling tales of her childhood and connecting them to what she does today. She has been involved in the production of thought-provoking content and is constantly seeking to tell new stories about Africa.

“Wanuri’s first feature film From A Whisper, based on the real events surrounding the 1998 twin bombings of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania won Best Narrative Feature in 2010 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, as well as five awards at the African Movie Academy Award, including Best Director and Best Screenplay,” her biography, off her official website, reads in part.

As an iconic Kenyan filmmaker, she has gone from creating bold films to starting her own media company, AfroBubblegum, a platform featuring a collective of African artistes and creatives working toward a “new vision of Africa” that centres on joy, hope, and love.

 Wanuri Kahiu

Eugene Mbugua

A lot of the entertaining local reality shows can be traced back to Eugene, who has been described as growing over the years into a “role model” writer, producer and director.

From ‘The Real Housewives of Nairobi’ to ‘Oh Sister’, ‘Our Perfect Wedding’, ‘Young Rich’ and ‘Being Bahati’.

Forbes Africa reports on his growth: “Mbugua and his team at D&R Studios went on to produce more than 20 television shows, establishing a prominent presence in Kenya’s media landscape. Their latest sensation, The Real Housewives of Nairobi, is capturing audiences’ attention not just in Kenya but on an international scale, thanks to collaborations with platforms like Showmax and NBCUniversal.”

 Eugene Mbugua

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