Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kenya International Film Festival

KIFF 2010 Poster
The 5th Annual Kenya International Film Festival was in town as from Thursday 21st to Saturday 30th October 2010. Though there was not much publicity about it going by the number of people who attended the free screening. Perhaps it can be attributed to the fact that Nairobian’s simply do not love movies but are into soaps and reality TV! Perhaps Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF) should put some considerable advertising Chest for the next year’s festivals.

Despite this shortcoming, Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF) this year come up with the first Kenyan Film week screening films in various location concurrently i.e. Alliance Francaise, SilverBird cinemas and National museums plus my favorite was the theme nights introduced. So for the last part of October I was able to interact with Spaniards (esp. the Sinorita’s), Colombian’s, Polish and Japanese (though they didn't have any geisha’s or samurai’s). 
Too bad I missed the Russian Night cause of the heavy rains on Friday 22. and the screening of american films which were held in Village market.

Welcome Mr. Marshall (24/10/2010)
All the same I kicked my film festival on Sunday with the screening of a Spanish film Welcome Mr. Marshall a Spanish comedy film directed by Luis García Berlanga and considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish cinema. It tells the story of a small Spanish town, Villar Del Rio, which hears of the visit of American diplomats and begins preparations to impress the American visitors in the hopes of benefiting under the Marshall Plan which was used to reconstruct war ravaged Europe after end of World War II and was the idea of the then Secretary of State of US.
Welcome Mr. Marshall
A central theme of the film is the stereotypes held by both the Spanish and the Americans regarding the culture of the other. Hoping to demonstrate the side of Spanish culture with which the visiting American officials will be most accustomed, the citizens of Villar del Río (Soria) don unfamiliar Andalusian costumes, hire a renowned flamenco performer, and redecorate their town in Andalusian style. Later in the film, each of the central characters has a dream in which different aspects of stereotypical American culture and history are featured. One consists of a Western-like bar brawl, another arrival of a conquistador on New World shores and another is of the trial  of the city priest under Senator McCarthy trials cum Ku Klux Clan.
Source: IMDB review

 PS: I must thank Prof. Isabel Santaolalla (Roehampton University, London) who curated the Spanish films and got us to understand the context of this screenings.

Spanish Evening in Nairobi (25/10/2010)
The Spanish threw some bit of spin to this year’s festival by hosting a fusion concert at the National Museums of Kenya, Luis Leakey Auditorium. To say we were blown away will be an under statement. Jorge Pardo on the flute/saxophone playing on the Arabian key mind you, Isaac Turienzo on the piano and Armando Orbon on the guitar was the best live performance of the festival for me.
The three musketeers took us on a musical journey through the universe of flamenco (don’t ask me what this is. I just know it when I hear it!) from a classical and jazz perspective.
The Precise and Infinite poster
Other Spanish films at the Festival
Cinema Spain

Colombian Night in Nairobi (26/10/2010)
The Colombian night was good. We had a film from a young Colombian filmmaker screened. What I liked was the fact that it featured underlying issues of FARC guerilla.

Polish Night in Nairobi (27/10/2010)
During the Polish night two films were supposed to have been filmed. This is Polish Cuisine & Love in the Year of the Tiger. However, what was fascinating about Polish Night is the fact that they had the director of both films Jacek Bromski flown here just for this screening. Mr. Jacek Bromski also doubles up as the president of the Polish Filmmakers Association.
  • Polish Cuisine was a social drama film– a panorama of the fate of a few Polish families since the times of Joseph Stalin until the beginning of the 90s.
  • Love in the Year of the Tiger was scheduled for another day due to time reasons
  • Mirrors in Music a documentary by Ruby Maubert about our very own Kenyan opera singer and classical music presenter Elisabeth Njoroge. She had gone to the home town of classical music genius Chopin in Poland courtesy of Poland Embassy which will also be holding CHOPIN2010 celebrations here in Kenya
Jacek Bromski, also had a chance to speak to us after the screening of the films. He talked about some of his works, what influences his works and what he is up to.
Bottom line it was like a premier and best night of the festival.

Jacek Bromski filmography and Profile

Japanese Night in Nairobi (28/10/2010)
The Japanese screened Hidden blade a film about a Samurai.
What is most striking about Japanese films is the fact that they use old technology of showcasing their films on the screen
Hidden Blade
During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan's fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan (Unasaka) to take an important position within the shogunate in far away Edo. Munezo has lived modestly with his mother and sister Shino after his father was forced into suicide after the failure of a bridge project. Kie, a farm girl serves them as a maid in their house. As time passes, Munezo's sister marries Samon, his mother dies, Kie is married into a merchant family, and he is required to learn western methods of warfare such as the use of artillery and firearms from an official sent from Edo. Learning that Kie is ill due to abuse, he rescues her from her husband's family. Although sharing mutual affection and respect, a marriage between Munezo and Kie is still impossible due to different castes, and when he, now a bachelor, is criticized for her serving in his house, Munezo sends her back to her father's farm. After being caught in a failed political intrigue, Yaichiro is sent home in disgrace and imprisoned in solitary confinement. After Yaichiro escapes, Munezo is ordered to prove his innocence from complicity by killing his old friend, and he seeks the help of his old teacher, the sword master Kansai Toda. Although Yaichiro had been the better swordsman when they studied together, Toda entrusted the secret of the "Hidden Blade" only to Munezo. Toda now teaches him a new technique to use as he prepares to face Yaichiro, who has taken hostages in a farm house.

Other Films Watched
The Holy Innocents
The Holy Innocents
Somewhere in the spanish country, in the 60s. Paco and his wife Régula are very poor. They work as tenant farmers for a very wealthy landowner. They have 3 children. One is backward. The others can not got to school because the master "needs" their work. When Regula's brother is fired from where he has worked for 61 years, he settles down at their little place... An attack against the archaism of the spanish country of the 60s.

Soul Boy
Soul Boy
Set in Kibera slum of Nairobi, the film depicts the story of a boy and a girl who set off together to save the soul of the boys father. This film is made by a Kenyan Hawa Essuman with the support of German director Tom Tykwer
More information on Soul Boy: Hawa Essuman and the Soul Boy Project

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