The producers of Watu Wote, Hamburg Media School, Germany have accused The Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Dr Ezekiel Mutua, of screening their film at the Eclipse theatre, USA, without their consent.
According to a statement from the institution, KFCB infringed on the copyrights of the film and had no right to screen Watu Wote without authorisation.
“We as the owners of all copyrights for Watu Wote, want to point out very clear that the KFCB and Dr Ezekiel Mutua had no right to do so, this screening was an illegal act and a copyright infringement,” the statement reads in part.
KFCB is further accused of not extending any support to the Kenyan crew of Watu Wote and for even failing to communicate with the crew prior to the Oscars.
“We understand the KFCB to be the regulatory body in Kenya accountable for film compliance, and therefore the experts in the fields of copyright. So we need to ask, how comes that an institution like this denied several times every communication with us but then sponsor a screening without owing any rights of the film or getting the necessary permissions?”
The institution also reveals that Ezekiel Mutua had no official invitation to attend the Oscars.
Local Actors had a week ago taken to social media to criticize Ezekiel Mutua’s presence at the Oscars, questioning if at all he had official invitation to grace the event. They further said his presence added no value to the crew of Watu Wote and the funds used by Mutua would have rather been used to fund some of the cast members to travel.
KFCB is yet to respond to the allegations.
Watu wote is based on the gruesome 2014 Mandera bus attack by Al Shabaab militia and was produced in 2016 as the graduation film for Germany’s Hamburg Media School master class program.
Katja Benrath from the media school won in the student narrative category of the Student Oscars, making the film the first “Kenyan” production to bag an Oscar.
The film further got an Oscar nomination in the Short Film (Live Action) category but lost to UK’sThe Silent Child.