All Roads Lead To Kitale for the Kitale Film Week; The First of Its Kind

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Article by: Ron Barasa

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The main events in the festival include film screenings which have been integrated with conversations on key community issues.

Visual storytelling is an inescapable form of art, a tool that we humans have utilised for the longest time to share the prevalent stories and tales within our society. It is almost impossible to quantify the role and effects of visual storytelling because narratives drive societies, stories create connections and dismantle preconceived notions of groups of people that are discriminative in nature. 

The Kitale Film Week is a Kenya-based film festival that looks to drive societal change through cinematic experiences and film. Their objective? To build a forum where Eastern African Filmmakers can showcase authentic stories to their communities through film. Kenya has been a film production destination for most international filmmakers. However, over the years, local filmmakers have risen to the occasion and embraced telling our own stories and by default, preserving our heritage as a people despite the challenges.

The Kitale Film Week is set to run from the 19th of February to the 26th. The first of its kind, the festival aims to foster strategic development in Trans-Nzoia County by giving local filmmakers a platform to showcase films that have integrated local narratives and key societal issues that need to be addressed. Filmmaking workshops hosted by top professionals in the industry will be conducted, with the aim of funding two short films by upcoming filmmakers that’ll preferably be shot in Trans-Nzoia.

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Terryanne Chebet, the host of Opening Night

The film week also includes a competition between Kenyan and Ugandan Filmmakers that have been nominated for major awards, a move that is aimed at improving collaboration between the neighbouring countries. The categories under which the films will compete for the awards are:

  1. Best Film
  2. Best Documentary
  3. Best Short Film
  4. Best Screenplay
  5. Best Cinematography
  6. Best Editing

Media Personality Terryanne Chebet will be hosting the Opening Night on 19th February at the Kitale Museum, which will also include a Q & A session with the cast and crew of the film Zuena. Trans-Nzoia’s Governor George Natembeya will also be in attendance as the Special Guest. In total, 36 short films and 16 feature films will be exhibited at the festival. You don’t have to be a film connoisseur to attend the festival, all you need is your curiosity and an appetite for a good time. 

Kitale Film Week official programme

Among the workshops available is the Screenwriting Lab, hosted by the multi-talented filmmaker and screenwriter Oprah Oyugi. Oprah is a seasoned expert in the film industry, having scripted Kenya’s first Original Netflix series ‘Country Queen’ among other projects. She’ll be training 7 other talented writers in the screenwriting workshop that runs from Monday 20th to Friday 24th. These 7 writers were carefully selected based on merit. The weeklong workshop is aimed at honing their skills, therefore enabling them to tell stories that dissect and investigate the human condition better. 

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Screenwriters selected for the Screenwriting Lab

The Kitale Film Week Festival has also partnered with various stakeholders in the film industry such as the Kenya Film Commission, who will conduct a workshop on the basics of Filmmaking from Monday 20th to Friday 24th. The Commission will issue certificates upon completion of the rigorous workshop.  

Kenya as a whole has always been a seedbed of culture and creative art forms. However, the creative industry hasn’t always been promoted optimally until recent times when the new generation of creatives took up the mantle. Peter Pages Bwire, the founder and team leader behind Kitale Film Week, is one such creative. He is a film executive, entrepreneur, filmmaker, writer and scholar who runs community projects in Kitale, Kenya. 

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Peter Pages Bwire, the founder and team leader behind Kitale Film Week

It is his belief that the creative economy through film will promote Kitale and Trans-Nzoia as the ultimate destination for Film Production. His objective is to promote a screen culture in Western Kenya and the North Rift by inspiring local audiences and raising awareness about film heritage and other related art forms. Acknowledging and celebrating his home’s heritage is the cornerstone behind his creative endeavours. After all, what would we be without the traditions, cultures and community affiliations that are deeply embedded in us? This first edition of the Kitale Film Week is but the first step in a journey of a thousand miles. To learn more about the festival, visit their website.

Peter Pages Bwire has also written an article that pries back the curtain on the idea of film festivals.