By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
The East African Film Network (EAFN) , the umbrella body that operates as a grassroots, country-based regional civil organization championing the socio-economic development and regional integration of the East African Community (EAC) partner states, marked its first anniversary on March 14, 2015 during the inaugural Mashariki African Film Festival in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Here, EAFN trained youth from all over the region in Sound Production for Film and presented the Best East African Film Awards. Present in Kigali were EAFN Chair Leonce Ngabo and EAFN Country Representatives Papy Ndikumana (Burundi), Ogova Ondego (Kenya) and Tresor Senga (Rwanda).
With the support of EAC and German Cooperation (GIZ), EAFN has over the past 12 months offered training geared towards improving film production in all the five EAC member states. This training–Short film Production through 6th Burundi International Film Festival (FESTICAB) in Bujumbura, Burundi; Scripting for film during 10th Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF), Zanzibar, Tanzania; Acting for film during 3rd Arusha African Film Festival (AAFF) in Arusha Tanzania; Documentary filmmaking during 3rd Nile’s Diaspora International Film Festival (NDIFF) in Jinja, Uganda; Cinematography workshop during 9th Lola Kenya Screen (LKS) in Nairobi, Kenya; Sound for Film during inaugural Mashariki African Film Festival in Kigali, Rwanda—has so far been given to 75 youngsters.
This capacity-building is expected to boost the trainee’s film careers and inject professionalism into their work as the region strives to move towards a more vibrant film industry.
The youngsters who participate in EAFN’s skill-development programmes also get their attention drawn to the process of bringing the region together and why this is important so that upon their graduation from the training, they have their own visions of a united East Africa and thus become ambassadors of the integration of EAC at work andconsciously serve to spread the message of the importance of the integration of the region through their professional endeavours.
With its secretariat in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, EAFN’s mission is to make the film industry attractive through creation of jobs especially for the youth, developing and promoting the film culture through festivals and other events in the region, ensuring growth of cinema products in the region, showcasing what East African filmmakers have to offer through cultural events, mobilising resources to support the EAC film industry, supporting regional strategic interventions geared towards development of arts and culture, celebrating achievers in the film industry and promoting EAC’s cultural diversity through screenings and injecting new energy into the creative industry.
With this in place and as the EAC moves towards harmonisation, it has become imperative that stories from the region are told to the benefit of every member of the EAC. This understanding will improve people’s commitment to take an active role in the process of integration. But it must first begin by having people to fully grasp the significance of integration. And this is why EAFN works closely with filmmakers by training them so that they can develop content that is culturally sound and which can help enhance the understanding of the region.
In line with EAFN’s objective of recognising and celebrating talent, EAFN, through its partner film festivals, awards The Best East African Film Award for the Best Short, the Best Documentary and the Best Fiction. This award helps to assess and celebrate the progression of the film industry and how much output has been achieved from what EAFN has injected into the training of film industry professionals in the region.
As EAFN marked its first year of operation, it set up five sub-committees that will enhance its operation and accelerate growth and the achieving of its various goals. The Training sub-committee whose mandate is to develop EAFN’s training strategy, identify and source for trainers, develop trainer’s terms of reference, coordinate training, develop the curriculum and exchange programmes for outreach distribution of regional content.
The Audience and Culture sub-committee is to ensure that member festivals showcase relevant content in line with the concept behind the respective festival, deals with standards and film culture activities besides advising the culture secretariat of the EAC and the region’s exposure internationally.
The Marketing and Distribution sub-committee is responsible for encouraging excellence in the productions to be marketed. It focuses on developing linkage programmes between production and distribution, building capacities in marketing the regional product and profile, and links with the five EAC-Partner States.
The Festivals Sustainability Sub-committee organises activities, workshops and deliberations of EAFN’s at nominated festivals; organises funds mobilisation and sponsorships, private sector involvement, subscriptions, scholarships and grants schemes and subventions for the Network.
The Media and Communication Sub-committee is responsible for maintenance and development of the Network’s communication systems; handles publicity and information dissemination; advises all EAFN-member festivals and stakeholders towards raising audience awareness through the media, publicity drives and advertising.
As a grassroots organisation, EAFN runs its operations in various countries through elected Country Representatives besides the Chair, Vice-Chair, General Secretary and Treasurer.