Young filmmakers hold key to Kenya’s cultural growth
These are exciting times for those of us who care about the art of filmmaking, as a form of cultural expression. The situation has never been as rubicund as it is since independence. Before the rise of the millennials, who have changed our fortunes immensely, Kenyan artists had not quite seized the opportunities in the film industry. Significantly, we had left our African story to be solely told by Nigerian filmmakers. Our presence in this area was, to say the least, undetectable.
It is fulfilling to interact with these millennials. They are young; just about 35 and below. They are innovative, adventurous, creative and aggressive. These are the youth leading us into dialogue with other cultures by foregrounding Kenyan perspectives through film. They have rebuffed the complacence of the earlier generations who may, because of a variety of reasons, not have been proactive and adventurous enough in the advancement of intercultural dialogue through film.
One has only to look at the constellation of the rising stars who are driving the industry in the country to appreciate the magnitude of their output. Among the rising stars is Sarah Hassan of the Tahidi High series, and a whole collection of movies, including the all-time hit Plan B (2019). An equally significant player is Pascal Tokodi, he of the Selina series fame and Grove Theory. I am animated partly because I am a participant in this revolution as an actor in one of the promising productions. Most of those working with me are below 35 and I think they hold the key to our future in film production. The fact that we are telling our story in a popular medium is worthy celebrating.
The themes of the films being produced are varied and diverse. Among other things, the stories reveal the impact of the Western world on our thought processes. They also explore our love lives and relationships in a world dangling between modernity and African traditional values. In a sense, the Kenyan movie industry, though at a nascent stage and limited in scope and sophistry, explores a part of the Kenyan story that had hitherto never been told.