IO PARLO (I’ll Tell on You!) of Italy and UGUGU NO ANDILE (Gugu and Andile) of South Africa have each beaten 21 and 10 other contenders to the Best Children’s and the Best Youth Film awards, respectively, at the 4th Lola Kenya Children’s Screen in Nairobi, Kenya.
In a colourful ceremony held at Goethe-Institut on August 15, 2009, Wangari Mumbi Kiarie—the President of the Jury—not only declared the 20-minute IO PARLO of Marco Gianfreda the best children’s film but also gave it the much coveted 4th Lola Kenya Screen Golden Mboni Award. Barely 10 minutes later, the articulate but soft-spoken Kiarie, a student at Kianda School in Nairobi, awarded South African Minky Schlesinger’s UGUGU NO ANDILE the inaugural 14-Plus Prize for the best youth film.
IO PARLO, a 2009 production, revolves around a 12-year-old boy who longs for friendship with the 25-year-old boyfriend of his sister but who, unfortunately, doesn’t even seem to see him. However the former’s big break comes when he catches the latter with another girl.
The jury—consisting of Kiarie, Gertrude Awino, Vanessa Wanjiku and Samantha Wangui—praised IO PARLO for using “the art of suspense to call the attention of the audience. The plot flows well and the message is carried home creatively. It also shows the ability of a child to influence circumstances in life.”
The second best and third best children’s films went to THE HAPPY DUCKLING by Gili Dolev of Scotland/Israel and PAMELA by James Kanja of Kenya, respectively.
While THE HAPPY DUCKLING was singled out for being concise, clear and creatively directed with the use of a pop-up book, PAMELA was said to be portraying a lifestyle close to home for many children around the world who come from homes torn by gender-based violence. “The theme was greatly developed and stuck to the story line. It…showed the true emotions of children…it was realistic.”
For introducing “a unique way of making documentaries”, being “well directed” and teaching “the audience the importance of determination and consistency in life”, the second best youth film at Lola Kenya Screen went to A BEAUTIFUL TRAGEDY by Norway-based documentary maker David Kinsella. It was with great joy and ululation as Kinsella went forward to receive his 14-Plus statuette.
FROM A WHISPER, a film by Wanuri Kahiu of Kenya, took the third best youth film award for reconnecting “with the silent trauma of people who live the past loss, trying to find unique and sometimes flawed ways of survival. But also challenges the definitions of faith, betrayal, honour and forgiveness artistically.”
The best Youth film, UGUGU NO ANDILE, was praised for having “a great cast”, and being “in the league of other great productions such as TSOTSI and SARAFINA.”
The Audience’s Choice Prize went to KIRIKOU ET La SORCIERE (Kirikou and the Sorceress), a 74-minute animated feature made in 1998 but dubbed into Kiswahili in 2009. A West African fairy tale directed by Michel Ocelot of France, KIRIKOU ET La SORCIERE was screened under a Special Focus programme titled, ‘Films Dubbed Into Kiswahili’. It connected with the audience right from its first show on Monday. Though every film is shown only once, KIRIKOU was shown three times due to the demand of the audience that is yet to be satiated. The audience kept on singing, ‘Kiriku ni mdogo lakini…’. “Kirikou may be small but he is a super hero as he can deliver himself and beat even Karaba the most horrid of witches.”
This film with a haunting music score by the great Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour, was shown in Nairobi through the courtesy of the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.
More than 200 films from 50 nations and 33 languages were shown during Lola Kenya Screen 2009. IZULU LAMI, a strong contender for the best children’s film award, was removed from the programme as was ZIMBABWE, both productions of a South African production outfit DV8 when the producers went against the terms and regulations governing the Lola Kenya Screen film participation after the festival had begun.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Children’s Services Assistant Director Adelaide Ng’aru, Prof Jacqueline Oduol—the Secretary of Children’s Affairs—described Lola Kenya Screen as “making a significant contribution in the development of children on all fronts.”
Also present at the closing ceremony were guests from the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa who participated in the UNESCO-supported 1st Eastern Africa Independent Producers Summit that grappled with the issue of favourable audiovisual media policies.
Presented by ComMattersKenya in conjunction with Goethe-Institut, Lola Kenya Screen 2009 was supported by UNESCO, ArtMatters.Info, Africalia, Cinetoile, Jan Vrijman Fund, Cinematic Solutions and Prix Jeunesse.