A look at Kalasha International Film and TV Awards, 10 years on
The Kalasha International Film and TV Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this year’s edition slated for December 12 in Nairobi. The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) chief executive officer Timothy Owase speaks with Elly Gitau on the achievements and aspirations going forward
What does it mean to you with the Kalasha International Film and TV Awards hitting 10 years since its inception?
It is a milestone achievement for us and the industry at large. We have witnessed the awards gala grow to become an annual event that recognises and celebrates exceptional talent in the film and TV industry in Kenya.
Over the years we have also seen it grow to attract more nominees and partners, improvement in the quality of productions and more involvement of the audiences.
The economic impact of the Kenyan film industry has taken the centre stage drawing from the increase in the number of productions and the many people employed during productions at any given time.
What has been the impact in the field categories the awards recognise?
Kalasha Awards has grown to be the most recognized film and TV event in the East African region due to its prestigious nature thus boosting the portfolio of the winners to a great extent.
The introduction of cash rewards has been a shot-in-the-arm for many filmmakers; reaffirming the position that filmmaking is a rewarding and lucrative venture.
How has the film market grown in East Africa owing to the gains brought about by the Kalasha Awards?
We have seen broadcasters embracing Kenyan productions as seen in the increase and enrichment of the film catalogues that are aired in the various TV channels.
This is as a result of large following that Kenyan productions enjoy even beyond our borders.
We are also now seeing many Kenyan producers doing co-productions with neighbouring countries.
So, what next for the awards going into the second decade?
Many Kenyan producers are now eyeing global markets with their film projects.
In the next decade, we will see the Kenyan film industry actively exporting Kenyan content to the world.
We also expect an improvement in quality of the films and stories being told.
Through our Film Empowerment Programme, we expect to see an increase in local productions drawn from all corners of Kenya with each region telling its own authentic story.
I invite corporates to collaborate with KFC and filmmakers as we strive to explore the power of film and advance the youth agenda.
I urge filmmakers to consider film as a business and not a hobby. Let’s use the art of filmmaking to make significant economic contribution to our economy and address the various social issues that impact our daily lives.
Will KFC continue cushioning local filmmakers from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes, KFC works to support filmmakers, especially in this pandemic period. President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive to allocate Sh100 million as support to creatives.
From this amount, the commission was granted Sh8.5 million specifically for filmmakers.
This was awarded to 33 filmmakers after a call for proposals was sent out. We also set up the Film Empowerment Programme aimed at powering storytelling in the country for Kenya and beyond.
The first cycle of this programme saw 12 filmmakers from different counties receive a total of Sh25 million for funding of various productions.
The second cycle of the programme is currently open and the call for proposals puts emphasis on content for children as well as film festivals and markets.
In the past, lucrative films with Kenyan themes have been shot elsewhere in the world. What is KFC (and the government at large) doing to make Kenya the favoured destination for filmmakers, especially in Africa?
The commission has mapped out ideal filming locations all over Kenya through the Location Mapping exercise.
This is aimed at showcasing the various scenic locations that Kenya has to offer, both to local and foreign filmmakers.
This information will be hosted on a one-stop-shop: the E-Film Shop. The shop will provide a single platform that integrates all services and information offered by film-related government agencies.
As such, the platform will offer ease of film business in the country. We have also intensified our capacity building initiatives to improve the pool of skills available in the Kenyan film industry.
This is aimed at ensuring empowered workforce capable of servicing international productions in the country.
Long term, it is our intention to ensure skill transfer from professional filmmakers to the upcoming ones.
Through the ICT ministry, the Cabinet approved the implementation of a Film Incentive Package in December 2019 to attract high-budget film productions in the country.
What’s your take on Kenyan films finally making it on international platforms such as the Netflix?
The Kenyan film industry has indeed come of age. This can be seen from the recent acquisitions of Kenyan films by the global streaming giant Netflix.
I congratulate the cast and crew behind these productions for the great effort and display of talent and for proving to the world that Kenya is a force to reckon with on the global platform in film production
What does this mean for the local industry?
Kenyan filmmakers are now challenged to create content with a global audience in mind. This calls for elaborate business plans and marketing strategies to be developed at the very start of pre-production.