The Impact of Cinema in My Life

By Elizabeth Chege (Kenya)

Sometimes, it’s necessary to go the long way round to find that thing that many describe as purpose. My journey into the world of film was such a case. After training as a musician in my early years, I followed my love for physics and art to study architecture. Upon completion and some work experience in the field, I discovered that I was devastatingly unfulfilling to by it. During a period of serious illness, I returned to my passion for cinema because film had provided me so much solace throughout my life. I endeavoured to find a way to turn this passion into something more meaningful and began to write about African cinema with a specific focus on Kenya, my country of birth. The online space was designed to be a repository of all things film and visual art, a space to celebrate voices unheard, voices emerging and voices not heard enough.

The Kenyan film industry is nascent and growing steadfastly as is evidenced by Riverwood (the local version of Nollywood or Bollywood), but is fraught with difficulties such as power outages and lack of training. Further, Kenya's Film Classification Board has made international headlines for contentious banning of work such as Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET or the recent attempt to prevent Netflix’s debut in the country. Still, the film scene is burgeoning with talent and is combating the setbacks; indicated by the powerful SOMETHING NECESSARY by Judy Kibinge that tackles the difficult subject of Kenya’s post-election violence or PUMZI by Wanuri Kahiu, a short film about a dystopian future – Kenya’s first science fiction film. With the way the global film industry is currently structured, there is talent that is not afforded the platform to tell their stories, as has been witnessed by the recent Academy Award controversy for the lack of representation of people of colour.

As a communicator, film is crucial in the way it exposes us for our cruelty, allows us an avenue to express joy, trauma, hope, delicacy, helps us escape and at times, crashes our ego. These are experiences we all share and why it is also important for me to highlight talent that rarely gets showcased. All art can do this, but I believe, none quite as well as film.