The audio-visual sector in Kenya bloomed.

Dangerous Affair, a straight-to-video soap opera made in Nairobi, was declared the Best East African Production at the sixth Festival of the Dhow Countries in Zanzibar on July 5.

The jury commended Dangerous Affair “for a bold and commendable effort to chart different directions and cultivate other styles of portraying and critically engaging contemporary social, cultural and personal issues and questions relating to young people in urban Africa. Also for its use of local and regional resources and technical expertise.”

A co-production of Kenya Film & Television Professional Association and Baraka Films, Dangerous Affair is directed by Judy Kibinge and executive-produced by Njeri Karago.

Also feted was Susan Wamburi’s Lamu: A splendour of Heritage which got the Chairman’s Award and a special commendation for “an important and informative account of an essential aspect of the historical heritage of humanity in East Africa.”
The jury further noted that Ms Wamburi’s documentary “is a highly commendable act of historical preservation done with passion, sensitivity and style.”
Wamburi works with the Film Production Department.

Kenyan location earned Nowhere in Africa, a World War II German film the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards for its authentic setting.

This is a love and family drama in which thespian Sidede Otieno Onyulo is one of the stars.

The US$6 million film is a memorable movie, its eye-catching and almost hypnotising vast African landscapes almost captures the magic of Africa that Roger Whitaker sings of in My Land is Kenya. Director Caroline Link and executive producer Peter Hermann contend it is the authenticity they went for in their film that earned it the revered Academy Award.

"Peter Herrmann and I agreed from the beginning that we should have African actors and extras in our movie who actually come from those areas which are featured in our story...the people tell much about their country and lend a special atmosphere and sense of place to the film. It is not something you can simply recreate," Link told ArtMatters.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to dress up Zulus as Maasai or vise versa,” Link argues.

Earlier in the year, Kenyan filmmakers, their families and friends had held a special memorial for feature film director JAM Karanja at Nairobi Cinema.
Nairobians gathered at Nairobi Cinema to sample the creativity of their filmmakers and also to pay tribute to Karanja, perhaps the only disabled feature film director in the world.

Those whose films were being screened were JAM (James Alex Maina) Karanja, Sao Gamba, and siblings Jakub and Stan Barua. All alumni of the world famous Polish National Film, Television and Theatre Academy in Lodz. This is the school that famous film director Roman Polanski, who won an Oscar for his film, The Pianist, at the 75th Academy Awards, attended. And this proved to be a night of surprises, soul-searching and self-recrimination.

Naliaka is going, a 90-minute video film, made a world premier in Zanzibar and also made history by being the first local production to make a theatrical release and run for 12 days at Nairobi Cinema. By the time we went to Press the film was lined up for screening at Mombasa’s Nyali Cinemax and Kisumu’s Tivoli Centre theatres.

Albert Wandago directs the film.
The Film Production Department held Images of Kenya, a festival on their productions, at Goethe-Institut in an attempt to promote local productions and market local skills.

At the beginning of the year, eight individuals and five films put Kenya on the world map at the 18th edition of the Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso (February 22-March 1), courtesy of the French embassy in Nairobi.

Film directors Albert Wandago (Metamo), Jacob Barua (Shades of Poland) and Kibinge (The Aftermath, Dangerous Affair), film producer Njeri Karago (Dangerous Affair, The Last Elephant), a deputy secretary in the ministry of tourism and information Nancy Watene, and arts and lifestyle writer and publisher Ogova Ondego represented Kenya in this biennial continental event that brings the world to Africa. Jane Murago-Munene became the first Kenyan director to make two feature films simultaneously with her The Price of a Daughter and Behind Closed Doors films.

Written, directed and produced by Murago-Munene, the former examines cultural practises—female circumcision, early and forced marriages, lack of access too education-- facing Maasai girls.
Behind Closed Doors, on the other hand, revolves around domestic violence. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Ford Foundation funded both films.