November 04, 2010

I am sitting at the Filmmakers Lounge at Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica, open in front of me catalogs from film distributors, Entourage mailbox showing me I have 100+ unread emails, my diary next to me with meetings to make, confirm, get out of...and nothing matters right now than the video I have just watched.

A year ago, August 2009 to be precise, we opened the Kibera Film School. All the students needed to attend the school was a passion for film making and talent. It did not matter the background, educational or social. Open only to the youth of Kibera. The students from Class of 2009 graduated in March of this year. One of the programs that came out from that Class was Kibera TV. It was not an easy thing to get going. These young people were going to go out in their community, Kibera, collect stories, edit them and upload them to the internet. They had to figure out how to do stories that were captivating, interesting, moving... ans they had to do them frequently. And they have.

Less than 1 year of Kibera Tv being online, they have told stories that would have otherwise never seen the light of day. They have covered issues that matter to them, highlighted successes, failures, ambitions, dreams...and they have made it their own.

They uploaded a video on Facebook today and tagged me. They have told the story of Kibera TV, what they do, why they do it and how they do it. It made me cry. It was not sad...it was moving. For me, to have watched them come this far, to see the work they are doing right now tugged at my heart strings. It is liking watching your child grow, take the first steps, then run.

It is the knowing that I have had something to do with that, that my efforts have enabled someone be able to be all they can be and even way better. It is the knowing that from now on, you can take away everything from those youth but you can never take the knowledge, the passion and the talent that they have.

They are holding up the middle finger to the world and saying...You thought you forgot me? I'm here b*^ch!

Go Kibera TV!!

This is the video i am talking about:

October 27, 2010

There is a radio show in Kenya called busted. It works like this. Partner A suspects Partner B is cheating. A calls the radio station and explains the situation to the presenter.  The presenter comes up with a 'story' and calls up partner B. Usually, B will say something stupid that will lead to her/him being caught cheating.

In this particular show, a man suspects that his wife is cheating on him with her boss. The wife has been 'working late' a lot and he is beginning to doubt any work  is getting done at that time of the night. He  calls the radio show asking for help. In this episode, the presenter pretends to be the wife to the boss... listen on..

Vancouver Beach
Me at Stanley Park
Nate at Stanley Park

A few weeks ago, Nate and I left for Vancouver.  After the culture shock ( we were staying on Davie Street, Google it), we settled in quickly. We were busy, not much to sight see, but we did manage a visit to Stanley Park and the seaside (or their version of the beach).  See, for me, if the beach does not look like this-- basically, miles and miles of white sand and blue water, then it doesn't count as a beach.



We also got to eat the best hot-dogs i have ever tasted by the sea side, right next to these people:

The are the most amazing (hilarious thing). A little info about them -

Yue Minjun uses his own iconic face in a state of hysterical laughter as a signature trademark. Recognized universally as a sign of happiness, the smile raises questions of intent and interpretation. One of the most influential contemporary artists in China, Yue Minjun represents the new wave of Chinese artistic freedom.
A-Mazing Laughter marks Yue Minjun’s Canadian debut. 

August 31, 2010

 Saw this a while back, then saw it again today on another blog. Just thought I'd spread my un-originality.

The Geography of a Woman
————————
Between the ages of 18 – 21 a woman is like Africa or Australia. She is half discovered, half wild and naturally beautiful with bushland around the fertile deltas.

Between the ages of 21 – 30 a woman is like America or Japan. Completely discovered, very well developed and open to trade especially with countries with cash or cars.

Between the ages of 30 – 35, she is like India or Spain. Very hot, relaxed and convinced of its own beauty.

Between the ages of 35 – 40 a woman is like France or Argentina. She may have been half destroyed during the war but can still be a warm and desirable place to visit.

Between the ages of 40 – 50 she is like Yugoslavia or Iraq. She lost the war and is haunted by past mistakes. Massive reconstruction is now necessary.

Between the ages of 50 – 60 she is like Russia or Canada. Very wide, quiet and the borders are practically unpatrolled but the frigid climate keeps people away.

Between the ages of 60 – 70 a woman is like England or Mongolia. With a glorious and all conquering past but alas no future (a bit like Tony Blair, maybe Blair’s a women really).

After 70, they become Albania or Afghanistan. Everyone knows where it is, but no one wants to go there.
My note - Add Australia here :-)

The Geography of a Man
————————
Between the ages of 15 – 70 a man is like Zimbabwe – ruled by a d***

April 29, 2010

Just thought i'd share this with you.

Its an article about me that on last months ScreenAfrica magazine.

The journalist called me 'Smoking Hot' .

See it here. Scroll to page 15.

April 27, 2010

No, i haven't forgotten how to write. Better yet, I haven't forgotten my readers. And no, its not that there is nothing new to report, sometimes life gets in the way of living.

Last time I updated you was in February.

Whats happened since then...well, Kibera Film School students graduated on March 27th. For me, it was like a birthday celebration of a rebirth. 9 months before, 10 students had enrolled in the film school's pilot project. 8 of them were graduating that day and the joy on their faces is something that keeps me going when i feel like i have bitten too much that i can chew.

The same month saw the nomination of our first feature film, Togetherness Supreme, which i produced (if you don't know that by now, I blame it on the media who never get my name right!)  to the Africa Movie Academy Awards, in 4 categories - Best film in an African Language, Best Child Actor  ( two children nominated), Most Promising Actor and Most Promising Actress. In April, the main actress and I traveled to  Nigeria for the Awards. We won in 2 categories - Best Child Actor ( the 2 kids), Most Promising Actor. See, now you know someone almost famous...and i will take this opportunity to invite you to join our facebook group.

Now we have been working on the premiere of the film in Kenya, which as of yesterday, has been scheduled for May 29th 2010 at the Impala Grounds. Its an invitation only event, better start lobbying me for those tickets eh? Immediately after, we will start screening the film in Kibera and other informal settlements in Nairobi. If you are in the Facebook Group, you get to see the updates on where its happening :-). You are also invited to help...or you can request a screening of the film in your area (even outside of Kenya). We take break in June as we like soccer too (and it's in Africa, so yeah!!). In July, we go on the road for a national wide Road show in Kenya. We will be screening the film outdoors in the evenings and holding peace and reconciliation workshops, live entertainment etc during the day. If you are in Kenya and you would like to get involved, drop me a line...

What else? Oh, Kibera Film School next intake is ongoing and the classes are scheduled to start on May 3rd. Volunteers welcome.

Love life. That happens here.

So that's it. Doesn't sound as if it would keep me away from my lovely blog, but it did!

February 21, 2010

On TV

February 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, David McKenzie and his CNN team visited Kibera Film School.

He did this story for CNN Prime...and Togetherness Supreme got the coverage too!

A couple of weeks ago, David McKenzie and his CNN team visited Kibera Film School.

He did this story for CNN Prime.

February 14, 2010

Today was the dine and shine dinner, which is more of a blind date where we the talents are seated next to 'experts' and you never know who you will get seated next to. After each course, the talents have to switch tables, according to the color coding provided...and you get to meet the next expert.
My first expert was an entertainment lawyer whose advise I really needed. We have arranged to meet for coffee later to talk more...
My next expert was the Durban Film Festival director, which was a higlight for me as we are planning on submitting Togetherness Supreme to and having our African premeire... I gave him the trailer of the film and met his wife, who is the director for the Durban Talent Campus, which I applied to too.
My last and kinda karmic expert was a guy I have been in touch on email with for a couple of months. He is a programmer for the Rotterdam Film Festival, the one incharge of the African films! I put him to task as to why our film was not selected. His answer was that the film was not the type that the festival was looking for. And try as I did, I did not get what they were looking for. Every year, the festivals get a theme for Africa and looks for films that fit within that theme. They basically make a box and go round looking for a film that will fit perfectly into that box. Then year by year the talk about supporting African films, and note 'ruefully' how African Films are missing from international film festivals.
Is it the technology? Well, I shot the film on RED ONE, doesn't get more digitally and technologically advanced than that. Is it the story, or its relevance? And when we talk about relevance, relevant to whom?? If festivals wants films from africa, then they have to accept that those films we make are relevant to us. How many European and Hollywood films are relevant to us? I believe that a filmmaker should make stories and films about what sorrounds him, the stories that shape the life from where he / she lives or interracts. Our scripts are relevant to us, take for example, Togetherness Supreme. Throw a stone in any direction in Africa and Latin America and you will find similarities in events and experiences as in our film. Methinks that when an african film moves away from cliche, from HIV, poverty, dying and general hopelessness, then the world is not interested. Then we have to wait for Hollywood to get involved, then the world takes notice, ergo Constant Gardner, Blood Diamond... District 9.

February 13, 2010

Today is my second day in Berlin, first day at the Talent Campus.

Despite the fact that Germans wont gave any signs in English (it's Germany anyway...) things are going on well. I arrived yesterday, figured out how to get to my hostel and how to get to the registration center, despite the cold...

I missed breakfast today. Because I had to queue for one hour to get tickets to some Berlinale Talent Campus events and the movies at the Berlinale Film Festival-- those which were not sold out already! I did manage  get a ticket for Imani, a film from Uganda.

I had so far met people from as far as Bosnia, and made friends with many more. At some point i did think it was too overwhelming.

Today is orientation day. I have signed up for a couple of interesting events / workshops... including this one

" Making Things Happen: The Producer in Close-Up
Cedomir Kolar, Katriel Schory
Producing is not just contributing to the production process – it is doing the entire process. Producers contribute to the development of the script, help design the production, from the look, to the cast, to the crew, to the rhythm, to the tone, they work on the film’s release, the marketing and the distribution strategy. Katriel Schory, acclaimed producer and now director of the Israeli Film Fund and Cedomir Kolar, co-founder of A.S.A.P. Films, state that it takes a lot to be a producer, to ensure that all options are carefully thought through and the ramification of each choice considered in advance. The two established producers will look closely into the process of producing and discuss the various elements that make a good producer for any project. They will focus on project development, creative producing and financing, as well as setting up co-productions, marketing, distribution and selecting filmmakers to work with."

Gotta go now..

more updates later

January 28, 2010

Its been 6 months of intense work, and now the students  from the Kibera Film School are about to graduate.
 
For those who are not aware what the film school is all about, you need to go to their blog, NOW!
 
The film school is an initiative of our production company, Hot Sun Films and our non profit organization, Hot Sun Foundation. It is based in Kibera, and caters to the youth of Kibera. We help them nurture their passion and talent in filmmaking by providing a space, equipment / technology  and instructors from the Kenyan film industry to be their instructors.

There will be a graduation ceremony in March (invitations later) for now, I am looking for a jury, much like in film festivals to watch the students final projects and select the best 3. There are 9 students, each with 2 projects, making it a total of 18 films.

The are currently working on these projects and will be done by 2nd week of February. You will have a week to watch the films then submit your evaluation. I will provide an evaluation form.

For those looking for interns, it will be a good opportunity to scout for talent in a place where talent has been ignored and not nurtured for a long time.

If you  are interested in serving on the jury, please email me: mercy@hotsunfilms.com


Prepare to be mesmerized!

January 05, 2010

Why i care

I am awake, typing this on my blackberry way past midnight. Most of the time, when I get insomnia, I usually have no idea what is causing it. I lie in bed, thinking about nothing in particular, but not sleep. Tonight however, its different. I know what's keeping me awake, I am trying to push it out of my mind, or at least the back of it...for tonight.
An aunt of mine got diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn't in Kenya, so I didn't know about it until a few days ago. Now, I'm not particularly fond of this aunt, I lived with her for a few months when I was in college, a life that saw me decide that living alone in a room the size of my pantry right now was a better option. She is however married to my favorite uncle. But when my mom told me about the cancer, all the dislike I had for her seemed to evaporate. I immediately called my uncle, note- not her- and asked a myriad of questions. Poor guy, he had no idea
where to begin. without thinking about it, I found myself offering to get her a doctor for another opinion, and even volunteered to accompany her. As I did all this, I was asking myself 'what is wrong with you! Don't you have enough health issues of your own to deal with?' Still... I went on. She discovered the swelling in april last year, went to various hospitals before finally being referred to the right one in November. The results came out. It was malignant and the doctors advised a mastectomy. She doesn't want to do that. So they started looking for alternative treatment. Maybe this is what got me. I don't know. But I was incensed that they would choose to ignore doctors advise and choose herbal treatment. I don't believe in herbal treatment. I need proof, tests, scientific results... Not word of mouth, I know a woman whose friend got cured blah. That I don't go for. But why should I care? I don't like her anyway! She made my life miserable when all I needed was a place to sleep instead of the horrible college hostels!

I am addicted to House MD. Nathan says I am addicted to men with lost souls. Dr Lightman in Lie to Me, Horatio in CSI Miami. Nathan...the director side of him. Damaged men. But highly intelligent :). Maybe because I like fixing things,especially people. Making it better for other people. Wanting to be needed? I don't know, I'll explore that another time. Back to House. In one episode, he pretends to have cancer. Everyone is concerned.
They do things for him, show him affection they never do, even hug him. They start tip toeing around him. Finally he gets tired of it and snaps. They are treating him like he is dead, he says. Tells them that he did that to prove something. That people become good to you when they think you're dying. They pretend to care, to love you even though you're an asshole- e.g, him. And I am thinking of that tonight. That is what is keeping me awake. Why I am doing this? I haven't talked to her in over 3 years. Is it pity? Guilt? But what do I have to be guilty about? Feeling the way I do about her? This is not an easy post to write. We normally don't want to say we dislike other people in public, esp not family. But then again, pretending has never been something I know how to do, ergo say things I shouldn't have said, ergo mostly called rude, ergo one reason I love House. telling it as it is, people should learn to take the truth. I digress. I am not feeling any guilt. Pity? Yeah, lots of it. She is a young woman - in her late 30s, 2 adorable boys- 13 and 6.and that has basically surpassed any previous feelings I had for her, and made me care. About her as a human being, about a woman who is faced with a life threatening disease. and that is all there is to it.

So tomorrow I am taking her to the doctor, I am sitting with her throughout the session, I am making sure she gets the right treatment. If this will make me feel good about myself, then so be it. A friend told me that she hates do-godders because its all about them in the end. Of course it is! Nate and I talk a lot about why we do the work we do in kibera. Yes it is to help the people, but its also as much as it is to feel good about ourselves. I could be in the US right now working in some Hollywood thing. But seeing a young man or woman learn how use a film camera and make his / her first film is more gratifying. So I choose that. Is it selfish, maybe so. Actually it is so. But is there a benefit? Yes, its a symbiotic relationship. I feel good about my accomplishments, that young person gets a once in a lifetime opportunity that changes his life forever. It was very hard for me to accept that. Denial is like Pandora in Avatar to me. I won't live there, no matter how tempting it is. Hell, I won't even visit. When you are truthful with yourself, you see things more clearly. I am rude, I am impatient with stupidity and ignorance, I am hateful towards all pretentious people, especially women who pretend to each other, I loathe mind games, again, played by women with the men in their lives, I am caring, I am honest to a fault, I am sympathetic to poor people to an extend of guilt, I rationalize everything, I push limits- and people's buttons- a lot, I love too much it kills me most of the time, I don't keep grudges because try as I may, I can never remember the reason I am or was angry at someone. I always remember that something the person did angered me but I can never recall what. I have never been angry at anyone for more than 30 minutes in my entire life, regardless of what they did. Yes, even that aunt. I can't remember what she did to me, only that it was bad.

So maybe that's why I care.

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