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KENYA’S FILM INDUSTRY UNENDING WRANGLES

Chris foot/Ezekiel Mutua

By Winnie Kabintie

“ENOUGH OF THE SIBLING RIVALRY” ACTORS TELL KFC’S CHRIS FOOT

Local Actors and film industry players have taken to social media to condemn the unending “sibling rivalry” between the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) and the Kenya Film Commission {KFC) saying it’s about time the two bodies stopped shifting blame on each other and started working.

The players were responding to an article by KFC Chairman Chris Foot, which was published on Saturday’s Daily Nation Newspaper.

Land Grab”

In the article titled; Kenya missing great opportunities in film, Chris Foot, while highlighting the challenges faced by KFC in executing its mandate to promote film in the country points out an encroachment of the commission’s mandate by the KFCB.

“….The problem is further compounded by an unashamed land grab on KFC’s mandate by the Kenya Film Classification Board, whose name and mandate under CAP 222 clearly state that its role is purely licensing and classification. Period,” Chris Foot says in the article.

According to the players, they have heard this cry for far too long. They argue that KFC has often failed to deliver on its mandate and cries foul when KFCB somehow steps into the vacuum.

Below are some of the views shared.

The sibling rivalry displayed by the two government bodies has been a major undoing for the film industry over the last two years… For the longest time, KFC was the only film body that filmmakers interacted with apart from Department of Film Services (DFS) but there’s no tangible thing they did to benefit the industry… Now that KFCB took advantage of the vacuum, rode the tide and now are up against some challenges, someone’s trying to make political capital out of the situation,” said Victor Muniafu former chairman Kenya Film and Television Professional Association (KFTPA)

Muniafu goes ahead to give an analogy that captures the KFC,KFCB wrangles.

There’s a story of someone who was given land to cultivate, harvest and sell the produce. He was quite satisfied and contented to just wake up in the morning to admire his vast land…The Neighbor had a smaller piece and he always planted, cultivated, harvested and sold his produce so in the quest for more output and profit, he spoke with the owner of the large tract of land and agreed that he could utilise his portion until he was ready to utilise his land…The neighbor planted lots of produce and harvested big time till he became a household name in the village…

Suddenly, the land owner woke up to reality and began accusing his neighbor of ‘grabbing his land’ so he’s got no produce to show for his ownership of the land over the years… The ‘land grab’ story we heard during the YEDF debate has resurfaced almost five years later by the same ‘victim’ who in the same article proceeds to confirm that he receives an annual budget of Ksh.120m but with no tangible results to show for the amounts received… I don’t support any injustice including land grabbing and I don’t agree with the ongoing shenanigans between KFC and KFCB but pertinent questions arise from the article and everything else that surrounds it…I just hope they’ll kiss and make up again soon just like UK and Rao shook hands and stabilised the country, he said.

Karanja John (producer): Interesting, today Chris Foot speaks about the missing opportunities in film, page 32, Saturday Nation, i have read the article with a lot of interest, all the way to where he speaks about “unshamed land grab on KFC mandate by Kenya Film Classification Board” the same issues that we have posted, the same examples of thriving film economies, I am just asking him a very simple question, Can we have a timeline for the Film policy. The industry is tired and fatigued by many write ups and excuses and simply want those mandated to deliver services to do so without explaining excuses while promising opportunities. Let us understand this expanded mandate through industry business results, any other excuse, with all due respect is self defeating and cumulative pain for the weeping industry. The practitioners know where the problems are and they want results in 2018, nothing more, nothing less, Let us see the policy come into force, sideshows and events can follow.

Yafesi Biggy Amwayi: It’s good that KFC is now waking up from the slumber.

Benson Kamau Muigai: We need to feel their efforts for the 120m budget. Otherwise 10 billion will not make any difference to film makers.

Oscars, Watu Wote Showdown

Prior to Chris Foot’s article, industry players have been up in arms against KFCB and particularly the CEO Ezekiel Mutua, who they accuse of overstepping his offices mandate while doing little for the industry and Chris Foot’s article is being perceived as a timely PR stunt for KFC to capitalize on the situation.

In Chris Foot’s article, he points out that KFC had received an invitation for the OSCARS to grace the fete in support of the crew of Watu Wote, who had been nominated for an award but “saw it fit not to waste taxpayer’s funds” and instead “opted to sponsor one of the cast members to travel”.

A point that seems to be a subtle shade directed at Ezekiel Mutua, who has been accused of illegally screening Watu Wote in the US and also for travelling to the Oscars without an invitation.

The players are key among other things advocating for;

  • Publishing of the Film Policy
  • The KFC to disseminate funds for film production.
  • Rebates and incentives for local and international films
  • Daily film license fee to be abolished
  • KFC to handle licensing of film makers as per its mandate, as stipulated in the legal notice 147 of 2015.
  • KFCB to have the Cap 222 reviewed so that filmmakers can have a flat rate for classification fees.

 

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