This September, Wanja Laiboni will travel throughout Kenya, with a professional photographer, documenting and studying Kenya’s diverse traditional crafts.She aims to collect the stories behind the crafts, the inspiration for their colors and symbols, and the materials and techniques used. The objective is to cover as much ground as possible, ensuring that the wealth of Kenya’s crafts is captured in images and words since the accelerating pace of urbanization and global cultural exchanges – that could potentially erode local cultures – indicates a clear and urgent need for preservation. The final project delivery is a professionally designed, digital compilation of Kenya’s crafts.
I believe that preservation needn’t be a long and bureaucratic process, and that preservation and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, I see the best kind of preservation as being one that transforms culture in its raw form into cultural symbols, products and images that remain present in our everyday lives, as opposed to living in documents in dusty archives that few have access to.
– Wanja Laiboni
Wanja has launched a fundraising campaign at Indiegogo and M-Changa (Kenyan equivalent of Indiegogo). Crafting Kenya now has a team of 7 people based in Kenya, Italy and France. To learn more about her and the impetus behind the project, watch the video below.
One of my favorite aspects of this project is Wanja’s commitment to ensuring the photographs and the information gathered is beneficial to the general public. As such, the final project delivery will also be availed to Kenyan university students in relevant fields of study, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board. She also plans to organise a public photography exhibition at Nairobi National Museum, or other Nairobi-based cultural institutions, at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
Background Photo: Colorful bowls made from Kisii soapstone (found in Western Kenya). Image credit – Wanja Laiboni
Support this incredible project by contributing at Indiegogo, M-Changa or by simply spreading word!
Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival and one of its most iconic cultural events. It is also the largest short film festival in the world. Tropfest is recognised for its enormous contribution to the development of the Australian film industry by providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and new and expanded audiences for their work.
The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of their background or experience. 16 Finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 700 annual entries and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Past judges have included some of the best and well known actors and directors in the world including John Woo, Cate Blanchett, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor, Jane Campion, Salma Hayek, and Gabriel Byrne.
As a guest of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, Tropfest Managing Director Michael Laverty,will visit Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria to present a series of short film screenings to South African audiences. The film program will comprise highlights from former Tropfest Australia winners and finalists between the years 2005 and December 2013. Tropfest films will also be screened at events in Kenya and Zimbabwe this month. The screenings form part of Tropfest’s commitment to fostering filmmaking talent at an international level,
The massive expansion of Tropfest around the globe conveys a worldwide appetite for fresh storytelling voices. It is so exciting to have Tropfest travel to Africa. We know that there is an enormous community of storytellers in this region, and we hope to one day establish a local platform for these filmmakers – with a global audience to share their stories with.
I am proud that Australia is supporting this important cultural exchange in the film sector, and hope that Tropfest will be well received by South African audiences. This festival forms part of a larger program of cultural and sporting events planned to coincide with this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy celebrations, which will showcase the strong and diverse Australia-South Africa relationship to the broader public.
– HE Mr Graeme Wilson, Australia’s High Commissioner to South Africa
How can short film festivals provide a platform for talented young filmmakers?
CinemAfrica arranges the largest African film festival in Sweden. The festival is a unique opportunity for children, youth and adults to watch and discuss films from emerging African film industries. They show feature films, documentaries, short films and animations made by filmmakers of African descent and works to highlight the Africans own pictures and stories.
There are also talks and special Q&A sessions throughout the festival. What part does contemporary art from Africa play across the global art world? Three artists who all use visual art as one of their mediums will be hosting a discussion, international Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, producer/researcher/presenter Zina Saro-Wiwa and innovative filmmaker Frances Bodomo. In collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. This event is free.
Stuart Hall was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers, and has been a constant presence in the global public debate for over 50 years, a pioneer in everything from the British New Left to feminist cultural analysis and postcolonial studies. In this sensitive told documentary director John Akomfrah creates a beatiful portrait of Stuart Hall from archive images and audio fragments, and creates an equal political and personal dialogue about memory, identity and our age’s dramatic history.
The history of black women in the American civil rights movement in the 60’s – and 70’s in a large-scale and ambitious documentary, a celebration of generations and a lesson to today’s feminists from the young, Nigeria-born filmmaker Nevline Nnaji. With a mixture of fresh interviews and archival material, we follow the emergence of a strong, international solidarity, black feminism, which is forced to fight against both sexist structures in the civil rights movement and racist structures in the women’s movement.
Some would argue that no area within the film world has changed so fast and so spectacularly in recent years as the African music videos, today a giant industry that established links with many of the most exciting and experimental willing new filmmakers. Along with a panel of directors who all have been involved in various ways in the music video world, examples will be shown and there will be discussions about the production, aesthetics, the music industry and how today directors are approaching the history and future. Teddy Goitom from Stocktown where music videos are prominently featured, will be on the panel.
Wangechi Mutu, People in Glass Towers Should not Imagine Us, 2003
Opening Reception: April 17, 2014
On view: April 18 – July 6, 2014
The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami will present Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, a comprehensive survey of Wangechi Mutu, a Kenya-born, New York-based artist whose multi-faceted work captures 21st century global sensibility. This retrospective began at the Nasher Museum of Art and will made its way to the Brooklyn Museum from October 2013 to March 2014 and will be at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in September 2014. The exhibition includes more than 50 works from the mid-1990s to the present, including a new site-specific mural and a black box theater projection of her newest video. Approximately 30 of the artist’s sketchbook drawings, dating from 1995 to the present, will also be on view, revealing fascinating insight into her creative process.
This exhibit is part of MOCA’s Knight Exhibition Series, which is made possible by a $5 million endowment allowing MOCA to fulfill its mission to present the best new and multimedia work by local and international emerging and experimental artists to a diverse audience.
Wangechi Mutu, Yo Mama, 2003
Wangechi Mutu, One Hundred Lavish Months, 2004
Since earning her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2000, Wangechi Mutu, who trained as both a sculptor and anthropologist, has come to be regarded as one of the most inventive and critically-engaged artists of her generation. Combining materials and imagery from sources as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the high fashion industry and science fiction, Mutu creates works that depict fantastical worlds as places for profound exploration of race, gender and power. Her work is a critical investigation of issues ranging from colonialism to displacement, ritual, perceptions of Africa and the female form.
Placing centrality on the female form, Wangechi Mutu’s provocative body of work imagines hybrid creatures and surreal landscapes that comment on commercialism, globalization and cultural norms. We are thrilled to be presenting the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to her work.
– Alex Gartenfeld, MOCA Interim Director and Chief Curator
A new site-specific mixed media mural created for the MOCA presentation will welcome visitors into exhibition galleries, which will be transformed into a forest-like environment populated by the installation of large-scale felt trees. MOCA’s Pavilion Gallery will be transformed into a black box theater for the projection of the artist’s first-ever animated videoThe End of eating Everything, 2013, in which Mutu works with musician Santigold to bring her elaborate collages to life in a magical narrative set in the sky.
The exhibit incorporates all aspects of Mutu’s prolific practice which includes collage, drawing, installation, sculpture, performance and video. Within this setting, Mutu’s iconic collages will be prominently featured, including new commissions and rare early works. Two other videos are featured in the exhibition: Eat Cake, 2012, which addresses ritual and overindulgence and Amazing Grace, 2005, a meditation on the slave trade and displaced populations.
Still from Eat Cake (2012) by Wangechi Mutu
Other features Ciné Kenya has done about Wangechi Mutu include her incredible work as the artistic director for a Pegasus Warning music video here.
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
When: April 18 – July 6, 2014, Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Price: General Admission: $5.00 Students & Seniors: $3.00 for concessions prices go here.
Influenced by the energy and intensity of the 100m sprint (a global event that captivates audiences in under 10 seconds.), 9·88 Films invites filmmakers of all levels of experience in Scotland, the UK, and across the Commonwealth to create films up to 10 seconds long, on any subject and using any form of moving image, and submit it online.
Starting January 2014, every month, the Nairobi chapter of The Awesome Foundation are giving away KES 100,000 for “awesome projects” in Nairobi. Application deadline is the second Friday of each month. The foundation describes their mission and objectives as,
…an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. Created in…Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is pooled together from the coffers of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees” and given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons.
The chapters are autonomous and organized by the trustees around geographic areas or topics of interest. The Foundation provides these grants with no strings attached and claims no ownership over the projects it supports. It is, in the words of one of our trustees, a micro-genius grant for flashes of micro-brilliance.
The trustees of the Nairobi Chapter are just regular people living in Nairobi. Every month they individually contribute the equivalent of US$1000 that goes into a pot to fund a project by an individual or group or organization that has “a brilliant idea that brings awesomeness to Nairobi.” They do not charge any fees so don’t be deceived by anyone into paying anything.
Kichwateli is a short poetic film set in a post-apocalyptic African slum and city. The film takes the viewer on a spiritual and metaphorical voyage through a young boy’s dream, mixing imagery of the boy wandering inquisitively with a live TV as his head to show the effects of media on a young generation.
The short film features music by Just A Band, Modeselektor ( a breakbeat duo from Berlin) and Maasai Mbili (Nairobi-based Art group). The music is a metaphor for the way we are now all plugged into the same images of global anxiety while at the same time we ourselves, are subjects of scrutiny by the all-seeing ubiquitous cameras. The director of Goethe-Institut Nairobi Johannes Hossfeld said this of the project,
Muchiri made one of the best music videos I have ever seen in my life.
Kichwateli was Studio Ang’s contribution to the BLNRB project, a cooperation between Kenyan and German musicians initiated by Goethe-Institut Nairobi and Gebrüder Teichmann. Learn more about the filmmaking process for Kichwateli and the inspirations that led to it’s production by clicking here.
Portrait by Allan Gichigi
Our World Is Round
Our World Is Round is a short film that celebrates the life-time achievement of veteran Kenyan cyclist David Kinjah and his award winning team Safari Simbaz. The film details how Kinjah discovered cycling and what brings him joy in this activity. Having raced and won medals in prestigious races around the world, Kinjah also mentored Tour De France 2013 winner Chris Froome.
Kinjah, the first black African rider to sign for a European cycling team, trained Froome as a cyclist when he was a boy while his family was living in Kenya. The film also delineates Kinjah’s strong desire to transform the lives of the people in his village through his passion and the power of cycling. This is an initiative which has taken form in the Safari Simbaz Trust,
Most of these young boys are school dropouts who would have ended up being gangsters. But through Safari Simbaz, they’ve learned a lot about life, gone back to school and most of them [now] have a career in pro-cycling, representing Kenya in international races globally.
In this film, the advantages that new technology has provided are also brought to the fore. When Kinjah first started cycling professionally, he mainly relied on magazines and newspapers. Now, with the help of web developer Fady Rostom, Kinjah and his team have an online presence that can be reached globally. Read more about the film and view more photos at a previous feature I wrote here.
Below is a list of some of the events she has attended, and the major upcoming events she is likely to attend. Any wins 12 Years A Slave has received from the following Award bodies, will be stated in the respective sections. Photos will be uploaded as they become available.
Lupita’s New Hollywood Award was presented to her by acting legend Angela Bassett.
Hollywood Film Awards, 18th -20th October 2013
The Hollywood Film Festival was created to make a connection between established Hollywood studios, independent filmmakers and the global creative community, as well as to honor excellence in the art of filmmaking. The awards are bestowed on honorees rather than nominees. In effect, the recipients are not competing; they are selected to be honored for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. Artist/filmmaker Steve McQueenreceived the Hollywood Breakout Director Award and actress Lupita Nyong’o received the New Hollywood Award for their work on 12 Years A Slave.
Lupita Nyong’o accepting her LAFCA Best Supporting Actress award which she won for ’12 Years A Slave’.
LAFCA Awards, Saturday 11th January 2014
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) is comprised of Los Angeles-based, professional film critics working in the Los Angeles print and electronic media. The association also presents yearly awards to members of the film industry who have excelled in their fields. The creative team behind 12 Years A Slavereceived a Special Citation for “beautifully telling a story that challenges us to reconcile who we are now with what we did then,” while Lupita received her award for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave,
My cup runneth over with gratitude…I am still in awe of [director] Steve McQueen.
Lupita Nyong’o arriving for the Palm Springs Awards.
Honoree Lupita accepting the Breakthrough Performance award.
Honoree Lupita accepts the Breakthrough Performance award.
Presenter Alfre Woodard, Palm Springs Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner and actress Lupita pose with the Breakthrough Performance Award for 12 Years a Slave backstage during the Cartier 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival & ShortFest awards gala.
Palm Springs International Film Festival, Sunday 4th January 2014
Now in its 25th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the US. The festival features more than 180 films from over 70 countries and includes the largest selection Foreign Language Oscar submissions of any Festival in the US. PSIFF has also evolved into one of the most highly anticipated preludes to the Oscars. Artist/filmmaker Steve McQueenwon the Director of the Year Award and Lupita won the Breakthrough Performance Award for her role in 12 Years A Slave.
Honoree Lupita Nyong’o attends the 14th annual AFI Awards Luncheon. 12 Years a Slave was chosen as one of ten best films of 2013.
Honoree Steve McQueen attends the 14th annual AFI Awards Luncheon. 12 Years a Slave was chosen as one of ten best films of 2013.
AFI Awards, Friday, January 10, 2014
The American Film Institute is a film organization that educates future filmmakers and honors the heritage of the moving picture arts. Each year the AFI Awards honor the ten outstanding films and the ten outstanding television programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. Director Steve McQueen and Nyong’o were both honorees at the AFI Awards luncheon.
(L-R) Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Steve McQueen, Sarah Paulson, and Michael Fassbender pose in the press room with the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama for 12 Years a Slave at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards.
Golden Globe Awards, Sunday, January 12, 2014
First held in 1947, the Golden Globe Awards honor achievements in film and television and divide the nominees into two categories: comedy/musical and drama. The Golden Globe Award is an American accolade bestowed by around 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign. 12 Years A Slavewon the top accolade, Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Lupita Nyong’o posing with her Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress which she won for ’12 Years A Slave’.
Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Thursday, January 16, 2014
Lupita Nyong’o posing with Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for ’12 Years A Slave’.
Screen Actors Guild Awards, Saturday, January 18, 2014
The SAG annual awards, now in their 20th year, honor acting work in five film categories and eight television categories. The most important award goes to an ensemble cast in both TV and film in order to highlight the collaborative art of acting.Only members of acting guild SAG-AFTRA may vote, so all winners are decided by their peers. The guild includes around 100,000 actors. It has become one of the industry’s most prized honors. 12 Years A Slave received 4 nominations with Nyong’o scoring the only win (for Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor in a Supporting Role).
Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Paulson and Steve McQueen at the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards.
Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor speak onstage during the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards.
Producers Jeremy Kleiner, Anthony Katagas and Brad Pitt and McQueen accept the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures for 12 Years a Slave onstage during the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards.
Winners of the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures; producers Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Dede Gardner, McQueen and Brad Pitt pose with their award in the press room.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, and Steve McQueen arriving for the 25th annual Producers Guild of America Awards.
Producers Guild Awards, Sunday, January 19th 2014
The Producers Guild of America is a non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The PGA has over 5,000 members who work together to protect and improve their careers, the industry and community by facilitating members health benefits, encouraging enforcement of workplace labor laws, the creation of fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, as well as other education and advocacy efforts. Gravityand 12 Years a Slave tied for top honors beating front-runner American Hustle and throwing open one of the tightest Oscar races in years.
McQueen, recipient of the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for 12 Years a Slave, and actress Sarah Paulson pose in the press room during the 66th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards.
McQueen accepts the Feature Film Nomination Plaque for 12 Years a Slave onstage at the 66th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards.
Directors Guild Awards, Saturday, January 25, 2014
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is an entertainment guild which represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry and abroad. The DGA is the world’s preeminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team, including Directors, Assistant Directors, Unit Production Managers, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates – 15,000 strong worldwide. McQueen was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 12 Years A Slave, but lost to Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).
Lupita at a Dinner hosted by Vogue’s Sally Singer for fashion label Sacai, 23rd Oct 2013. Photo: Pablo Frisk
What a pleasure it was to spend time with someone so talented and charismatic. In April 2013, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o was my very first ‘Profile of The Week’ feature where I noted her early accomplishments including In My Genes, a documentary that detailed the plight of people living with Albinism in Kenya, her stage work while she studied at the Yale School of Drama and her leading role in the MTV award-winning drama series Shuga.
Since then, she has gone on to garnerconsiderablefame and acclaim for her searing role as Patsey in the historical drama film 12 Years A Slave directed by British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. The story is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a Black man and talented musician who was born free in New York state, kidnapped in Washington D.C., then sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years. The screenplay was adapted by John Ridley. The film has been awarded 370 nominations and won 183 awards thus far. Lupita has been nominated for 37 awards and has won 28. To find out more about her award wins and the upcoming major events during this awards season, go here.
Director Steve McQueen with actors Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the BFI Film Festival premiere in London.
Lupita Nyong’o, myself and my friend (and plus one for the night) Janet from CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy Photo Credit: CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy
Myself, star of 12 Years A Slave Chiwetel Ejiofor and Janet from CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy Photo Credit: CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy
Director Steve McQueen and I at the Langham Hotel in London.
Lupita Nyong’o at the BFI gala reception for 12 Years A Slave.
(L to R) Janet from CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy, myself and Lupita Nyong’o Photo Credit: CoolOnDemand/FashionDemocracy
The film rendered me speechless then, and again, when I watched it for a second time at The Watershed which was followed up by an informative Q&A session led by Dr. Edson Burton. So much so, that I have been unable to compose a response to it that captures my thoughts to a satisfactory degree. Hence, my delay in writing again about Nyong’o or the film. As a testament to how great her performance was, she has also been nominated for the most prestigious award of all, Best Actress In A Supporting Role from The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (Oscars). Watch the full announcement of the nominations here:
Paa Ya Paa Arts Centre are holding a films and media exhibition as part of Black History Month. The arts centre is a place for inspiration and development for indigenous artists and art lovers. Their programs include visual arts, music, dance, theatre and photography. Paa Ya Paa describe their name origin as,
a compound Swahili name which literally means “The Antelope Rising”. In Swahili “paa” means “rise” and also means an “antelope”. In the 1960s the antelope had become a regular subject for the curio wood carvers designed to attract tourists in East Africa. Symbolically, therefore, Paa Ya Paa is a spiritual calling in the hope that the simple artistic expressions will rise in to a new realm of open-minded creative adventures, adventures that will give new scope for free creative self-expressions of the artist as well as the ethics and aesthetics that make the pursuit of excellence in the creative arts a worthwhile discipline.
There will be a mixed media exhibit that can be viewed before the start of the films and there are moderated discussions after the screenings. All screenings are FREE and will take place at Paa Ya Paa Arts Centre in Ridgeways. The schedule is as follows:
12 Years A Slave, Saturday February 8th 2014, 16:00
This is a historical drama film 12 Years A Slave directed by British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen. It is also notable for being Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o‘s first film role for which she has been nominated and won a host of awards. The story is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a Black man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) and talented musician who was born free in New York state, kidnapped in Washington D.C., then sold into slavery and kept in bondage for 12 years.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Saturday February 15th 2014, 16:00
Based on South African President Nelson Mandela‘s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. The film stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Madikizela–Mandela.