The summit took place last week Friday, Sept 29, 2023, at the Nairobi Film Center. Akoroko could not attend the Summit in person, so this summary is based primarily on information shared via the Twitter accounts of the Kenyan Film Commission and Ababu Namwamba, Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports.
Brief Context First
The 2000s brought a digital shift to Kenya’s film industry. Despite facing censorship and regulatory challenges, the industry saw support with the establishment of the Kenya Film Commission (KFC) in 2005. This move, along with international exposure from platforms like Netflix, has bolstered the industry, offering hope for its growth and global reach despite ongoing hurdles.
Today, the film industry is at a pivotal point. The government’s commitment, as seen in the State of the Film Industry Summit last week, signals a move towards addressing longstanding challenges facing the industry, with an emphasis on investment, infrastructure development, and collaboration with international partners.
Highlights of the Summit
– Historical Neglect of the Film Sector: The CS highlighted the historical neglect of the film sector, with a commitment from the government to rectify this by anchoring the sector in a new manifesto dedicated to addressing and resolving the industry’s issues. The aim is to transform the sector into a sustainable industry that provides decent livelihoods.
– What Is Essential for the Industry to Thrive: He outlined the need for a supportive regulatory framework, fair labor rules, contracts, working hours, intellectual property rights, and other fundamental labor rights.
– Unified Body for Creatives: Kenya Film Commission’s Chief Timothy Owase emphasized the need for a unified body in Kenya to address the needs of creatives, aiming to eliminate communication and collaboration barriers.
– Investment and Profitability: Emphasis on investment in original quality productions, outlets, and exhibition spaces to make the industry profitable.
– Industry Incentives: Announcement of a unique award scheme, that comes with a significant financial reward, to recognize individual efforts in the industry. Additionally, the Kenya Film Commission is finalizing a film incentives framework to oversee film production, promotion, and distribution in Kenya, aiming to make Kenya an attractive film location.
– Engagement with Netflix: The CS and Kenya Film Commission have engaged with Netflix to build on the capacity of Kenyan filmmakers and assist in marketing, helping Kenyan filmmakers to monetize their productions.
– Government’s Pledge: The Ministry pledges to invest in the sector for its transformation and expansion, showcasing the government’s commitment to the film industry’s growth.
Moving forward, sustained efforts are essential to keep this momentum. The focus should be on securing consistent government backing, drawing more international investment, and tackling censorship for creative freedom.
The proposed unified body to manage the industry’s needs could be pivotal here, streamlining processes. This all signals hope for a thriving and globally acknowledged film sector in Kenya.
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