May 31, 2011 – When you think of a film director, a classic image of a masculine genius with a crew of passive women, comes to mind. This has long been the archetype of a film director, but over the last few years a host of women have been making waves, including our own – Jinna Mutune with Leo. Then there are Kenyan sisters Wafa and Amirah Tajdin, both working on an international collaborative feature.
Is this a new era for female filmmakers? Unfortunately, the numbers suggest otherwise. Only 3% of the global film industry is made up of women, let alone in Africa.
Newcomers Wafa and Amirah Tajdin hope to break into the international film market with Africa as their base. Their newest project Train Station Collab Feature (working title) features segments filmed by 50 filmmakers all over the world; weaved into a feature film. This collab feature follows the successful debut of the first collab feature, which has just been picked up for distribution at Festival de Cannes.
Upon successfully completing the application process, sisters Wafa (27 years old) and Amirah Tajdin (24 years old), were selected to direct and write two segments of the international collaborative feature film project in Nairobi despite being young females and having no directorial experience.
This will be Amirah’s international directorial debut apart from a couple of video art pieces that were part of indie film festivals in Dubai and South Africa. Older sister Wafa has been in the film industry for the last two years, and her last project, Malal, won 1st prize at the Dubai International Film Festival 2010 for the Short Film category.
The Train Station Collab Feature’s executive producers are based in Detroit, USA. The Tajdin sisters and their American producers were keen to show Africa for the first time in a new light (outside of South Africa). When the Tajdin sisters pitched filming in Nairobi, the executive producers jumped on board immediately.
The Tajdin sisters, raised in a diverse Kenyan family with Arab (Omani/Swahili) and Indian roots, wanted to show the realities of social misfits in modern Kenyan society in a poetic narrative. For this film, apart from placing their hometown, Nairobi, on the global map with a more urban perspective and not in a National Geographic kind of way, the Tajdin sisters will also be highlighting a faction of the Kenyan society that is considered taboo – the homosexuality community.
Amirah Tajdin believes that a good storyteller should be able to transcend differences in culture and still tell a good story.
“A good storyteller should be able to find a story and do it justice without being condescending,” explains Tajdin.
Homosexuality characters are often written in a comedic light and the Tajdin sisters hope to narrate the lead character’s story as a gay male not as a parody, but in a poetic manner with honest emotion.
Aside from writing, filming, casting and production, the 50 filmmakers around the world are expected to fund the production of their segments individually. Once the feature film has been completed, the Executive Producers will then look for distribution and when the film has been sold, all of the 50 filmmakers will be entitled to a share of the back-end profits.
Hot Sun Films, a production company based in Nairobi, will be working with the Tajdin sisters with the project in Nairobi.
If you would like to get involved in this project, you can invest in the Tajdin sisters’ segments (it could be Ksh 5 or it could be Ksh 50,000 or more), and in turn receive producing credits and a share of the film’s profit. For the complete details and breakdown of perks, please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/International-Collaborative-Feature-Segment