After two successful years, the Slum Film Festival is preparing its third edition, expanding its focus to slum stories from across the African continent. The third edition of the Festival will be celebrated in Nairobi on September 2 – 9 2013, on open grounds at both Kibera and Mathare (Nairobi’s biggest slums), as well as central cultural venues around the city.
Although their crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo is now closed, You can still help by spreading the word about this great initiative.
Kibera and Mathare are slums just on the outskirts of upscale suburbs of Nairobi with an estimated combined population between 200,000 to 1 million people living in just a couple of square kilometers. The slums are composed of houses and shops made of corrugated metal sheets arranged in a maze-like arrangement with dirt paths, open sewers, and communal pit latrines. Due to the mass migration from rural to urban areas in recent decade, UN Habitat estimates that 1 in 6 people around the world live in slums like these.
The health, economic, and human rights issues that might arise from such a dense population and severe poverty have been well described by many organizations and news outlets. What many of these official reports and academic papers fail to capture, however, is the incredible cultural richness and vibrant creative energy that flows from the individuals in these slums. There are schools, butcheries, cell phone shops, clinics, football pitches, and bus stops where people are interacting with each other and living their lives. And while it looks starkly different from the daily reality of a British, European or American city, all of the essential components that bind a group of people into a community are present.
The local film partners in these slums have been working to provide long term training and mentoring to creative individuals who want to develop their ability to share stories and ideas through the medium of film. The final products are truly outstanding works of art and, most importantly, resonate with the people in the community who see these productions.
Here’s the problem, very few people in the slums see these locally made films. In an area where space is at a premium and pocket change is rare, there are no large movie theatres. In a community where few people have computers and even shared Internet is expensive, access to youtube is limited. There are huge audiences who want to view these films and local filmmakers who want to show their films, but the requirements for screenings film media on a large scale require organization and funds far beyond the means of these communities.
The Slum Film Festival! For 7 days at the beginning of September, they rent enormous inflatable screens, projectors, sound systems, and generators to transform an open field in the heart of the slum into a massive outdoor movie theatre. Before the screenings, local performance artists are invited to share their music and dancing with the crowds and create an entire evening of cultural activities.
For most screenings, a crowd of more than 500 people is drawn. While the audiences are seeing the final product of these filmmakers, the team of film festival partners and organizers are also working behind the scenes running weeklong workshops that educate early-career filmmakers on everything from the technical aspects of editing to navigating the process of bringing your art to a larger audience. Over 80 individuals have benefited from these workshops in the past editions and they are hoping to train another 50 this year.
The film festival is not a traditional film festival because the target audience is not industry executives or the rich and famous. The investment of resources goes to individuals who are often overlooked by our global society – the residents of these slums. This is why every euro/pound/dollar that you contribute goes directly to the costs of hiring equipment, reimbursing bus fare for local artists, purchasing text messages, and supporting the basic daily needs of our participants at the workshops. All international consultants are funded by outside grants and programs to specifically support their assistance with this festival. When you donate to the Slum Film Festival, you are donating directly to the artists and art-enthusiasts in the slum.
Slum Film Festival website