African Film Industry on its way up with Kenya Y-FI initiative

NAIROBI, Kenya - The African Film Industry is constantly evolving, having been held back by a lack of investment but now a new initiative and affordable technology could inspire a new generation of filmmakers.

Meet Ben Mwangi, a sales rep and business developer from Nairobi who has put his life into the film director s chair. Ben has founded a youth organization to create digital filmmaking clubs across the continent starting in Kenya to inspire the next generation of kids, and to pursue his own passion for filmmaking. With a rich cultural heritage, Africa is a continent that has huge room for growth and investment in its own film industry. Film has become an enormous medium thanks to the expansion of online video, and the falling costs of making movies.

The Youth Africa Film Organisation will start its mission this year, by launching the pilot programme in 3 schools, to help educate local talent on how to make films. With basic filmmaking equipment, there is momentum in place, but Ben wants this to be a yearly program, so that kids can benefit from the initiative with the help of international donors.

Creating a skilled workforce, and educating people on the benefits of filmmaking will promote culture, new industries, and build communities. Filmmaking is not just a creative process, as it builds friendships between communities who share a passion to tell stories and improve other lives.

Find out what Ben hopes to achieve with the Youth Filmmakers Africa Initiative and he is now working full time on the project.

Interview with Ben Mwangi - Founder of the Y-FI Africa NGO

Iain: How did you start the Youth Filmmakers Africa non-profit organization?

Ben: This idea was born at the realization of just how much filmmaking has evolved. It's no longer that complex and expensive process reserved for a few. Today, there's an influx of affordable and easy to use digital camcorders and editing software. Bubbling with creativity and enthusiasm, our youth are ready to explore the digital filmmaking process. All they need is a platform of opportunity and development in this art; this is the gap Y-FI Africa hopes to bridge.

Iain: What is the film industry like in Africa? What is missing?

Ben: It's a case of immense potential not even close to being fully realized. The industry has long not been viewed as mainstream and therefore suffers from lack of progressive policies at government level. We need as well to invest in affordable, accessible and quality film education. For example, here in Kenya, we only have one established film school.

Iain: What do you want to achieve with the digital filmmaking clubs?

Ben: To inspire the next generation of African Filmmakers! Imagine a young lady who joins the club in her first year of high school. Throughout her four year stay, she'll have participated in the production of no less than 20 short films in different capacities. With the initiatives we have lined up, she ll have the opportunity to interact with film industry professionals, undergo quality training in different aspects of filmmaking as well as have her work exposed to the whole world. At the end of the four years in high school, will she not have a head-start into the film industry? Will the transition from school into the marketplace not be easier? Will this young lady not be empowered?

Iain: Who has inspired you in the film industry? Do you have any role models?

Ben: That would be Kenyan Filmmaker, Wanuri Kahiu. She won best short film for her short PUMZI at the Cannes Independent Film Festival last year. Still very young and set to be the face of the African film industry in the years to come.
If you could shoot a movie with anyone, director or film star, who would it be?

Oliver Litondo. His performance in the First Grader was inspiring!

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