KALASHA FILM AND TELEVISION AWARDS: PAST, PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
As per the Draft Kenya Film Policy, Film Kenya by Ministry of Information and Communications, the Kenyan entertainment industry is worth approximately Kshs 8.6 billion. The industry is comprised of the broadcasting, cinematic, theatrical music and interactive industries. Of this figure, the film and television industry including documentaries and advertising commercial is worth Kshs 4 billion and employing approximately 15,000 people in the name of actors, producers, directors and many other professionals as they rightfully deserved to be referred to.
There are more than 200 firms involved in the film industry across the country. However, when performing optimally, it is estimated that the film industry can generate over Kshs.40 billion and create more than 250,000 jobs annually.
A need to recognize and reward the efforts of the enthusiasts of the film fraternity in Kenya gave birth to Kalasha Film and Television awards back in June 2009 when the 1st ceremony was held. The awards are a brain child of the vision and mission of Kenya Film Commission whose mandate, among many others is to market Kenya as a centre for excellence in film production.
Kalasha was formulated to distinguish three aspects of the industry; Film (Full length, short films and documentaries), Television and Special award (Ujenzi Award, Kituo Halisi Award and Mfalme Award). There was not much competition with the offset of kalasha and even to date, there are persons who do not see the need of having Kalasha because Kenya has not reached the point where we can have an Oscar like event simply because, we do not make enough movies to write home about leave alone have award ceremonies and there was the fear of having monopoly of winners.
Kalasha conversely raised the statute of some industry players and to date, the winners of Kalasha 2009 are still highly regarded and recognized in the film business. Wanuri Kahiu(director) and the Movie “From a whisper” was the movie to watch out for. Other names included: Peter King [Formula X] , Abubakar Mwenda [From a Whisper], Janet Kirina [Benta], Lydia Gitachu [Unseen Unsung Unforgotten], Judy Kibinge [Killer Necklace], Joseph Kinuthia (Omosh) [Tahidi High], Jackline Nyaminde (Wilbroda) [Papa Shirandula], Benson Wanjau (Ojwang)-[Vitimbi] , Mwenda Njoka[J.M.Karuiki-Kenya’s Secret History Series], Catherine Wamuyu Nguku [Mother-in-Law], Victor Gatonye [Makutano Junction].
Citizen TV was predominantly awarded and recognized as the station that best supports Local Content with Tahidi High winning the award for best TV drama.
Kalasha 2010 saw an increase in films submitted and therefore a stiffer competition presented. Notable names include: Samson Odhiambo- Soul Boy, Geoffery Jefferson Ong’ongo- Togetherness Supreme, Lucy Nyaga- Shida, Ummul Rajab- Ndoto za Elibidi, Andrew Mungai- Togetherness Supreme, Wanuri Kahiu- Pumzi, Carole Gikandi Omondi- Ndoto za Elibidi, Billy Kahora- Soul boy, Charles Bukeko- Papa Shirandula, Elizabeth Wanjiru Bageine- Mother in Law, Kenneth Gichoya- Papa Shirandula, Hillary Ng’weno- Makers of a Nation, Jeff Koinange- Capital Talk and Oliver Litondo alongside Charles Simpson awarded for Lifetime achievement awards.
153 films were entered.
Kalasha 2011 was an event well organized and orchestrated. However, comparing Kalasha 2011 vis-à-vis kalasha 2012, one can pretty much see the graph remaining at the same stagnant position. The nominees were pretty much the same this time round as they were in 2010. Jitu Films was nominated for 15 awards followed by Cinematic Solutions with 10.
Controversy also loomed Kalasha 2011 when one actor and activist, Roy Ogolla, accused Kenya Film Commission for incompetence and brought forth corruption allegations and misappropriation of funds when the 8million budget set for Kalasha 2011 was exceeded by 4million with no paper trail showing how the extra monies was spent.
Furthermore, a poll conducted by popular acting website www.actors.co.ke showed that the public wanted their veto power increased from 10% to 40% for future kalasha’s.
Nonetheless, some recognizable names for Kalasha 2011 included: Joy Lusige - rugged priest, Mark Mutahi and Bob Nyanja-rugged priest, Kamau Mbaya-obi in The briefcase, Serah Ndanu(Alice in the rugged priest), Lwanda Jawar-Ian in the Rugged Priest, Millicent Mugadi-Esther in me my wife and her guru, Raymond Ofula, Richard Mwako in Nairobi Law, Nice Githinji-lisa of changing times, Vincent Mbaya- be the judge, Nelly kuria –Abby in mheshimiwa, Life time achievement award went to David Mulwa.
Rugged Priest took home most of the awards and a similar situation has already been foreseen come Kalasha 2012 with Nairobi Half Life, already won international recognition, submitted.
Kalasha 2012 is here with us and has been scheduled to take place on the 8th of December 2012 at KICC. 97 films were submitted which is a decline to the 129 films submitted in 2011. However, perhaps scrutiny from previous kalasha’s having critics complain of the same nominees year in year out was felt and this time round we had lots of new entries and names unheard of before. “Nairobi Half Life” and “Lost In Africa” has dominated the various film categories and “Lies That Bind” and “Mali” taking the bigger chunk of television categories.
This time round however, Kenya Film Commission heeded to the public’s outcry to have more voting power handed over to them and 30% was awarded.
Where would we be without a little controversy and in the Television category, eyebrows were raised when not a single Citizen TV program got any nomination. More eyebrows rose when Nigerian actress and star Rita Dominic (starred in shattered) was included in the nomination for best actress in a film category alongside Patricia Kihoro (Miss Nobody) and Joan Amara (Miss Pathetic). The Kalasha awards have been designed to allow Kenyans to celebrate their cultural diversity through film and to recognize the role of film in economic sustainability. Specifically, the awards seek to motivate local producers towards quality film and TV productions. The event is organized by Kenya Film Commission, whose mandate is to develop and promote the local film industry.
The obvious question then follows, why was Rita Dominic nominated in Kalasha Awards yet it is for Kenyans by Kenyans?
I took the liberty to get a hold of one of the Nomination academy members, Mr Eston Munyi to shed light on the subject matter and this is what he had to say: "Our work as the nomination academy was to watch and review the movies submitted for kalasha and choose the best of the best. We did so and felt that Rita Dominic was outstanding and deserved to be nominated in that category for her performance in Shattered which is a Kenyan movie. That was our job. It is upto the public now to choose who they feel should win in that category. It is now upto the voting lines"
Polls currently running on www.actors.co.ke show that likely winners for Kalasha 2012 will be Rita Dominic (shattered), Joseph Babu Wairimu (Nairobi half life), Maina Wilfred (Nairobi Half Life) Mumbi Maina, Kevin Samuel and Mkamzee Mwatela (Mali).
Sadly nothing new has been incorporated and a majority feels that the kalasha trophy should be tied to some financial value to it. That is currently under consideration and future kalasha will come with added advantages. Perhaps not in monetary value but a move to get scholarships for winners and/or perhaps grants for filmmakers is something that could be implemented. Also, with international stars now being included in Kalasha, it just could be a hint of where it is heading and it looks like we are going beyond Kenya. After all, if it is the mandate of Kenya Film Commission to market Kenya as a filming destination, why not open the borders for other countries to come compete here?