Kitale Film Week Opens Call for Submissions for its Inaugural Programme

The Kitale Film Week has officially opened its call for submissions of films for its maiden event scheduled for February 2023, the festival director Peter Pages Bwire has announced.

Wangui Ngunjiri

11/12/20202 min read

The Kitale Film Week has officially opened its call for submissions of films for its maiden event scheduled for February 2023, the festival director Peter Pages Bwire has announced.

The film week, a 7-day festival that will take place in Kitale, Trans Nzoia, seeks to curate strands of cinema for the cosmopolitan audiences of Trans Nzoia, giving prominence to the voices of the North Rift and Western Kenya. It also features a competition which will be open only to Kenyan and Ugandan films, as the organizing team seeks to build industry relations between the two countries. Kitale is close to the border of Kenya and Uganda, making it easy for artistic exchange and collaboration. The competition is led by Kenyan film producer Wangui Ngunjiri, with support across the border coming from Ugandan film executive Joel Tugaineyo. A festival jury is expected to be announced in late October.

“It is a pleasure for us to be able to open this window. The growth of our film industry and our towns will not happen without the effective participation of filmmakers. Our hope is to get as many Kenyan and Ugandan films submitted,” Ngunjiri said on the opening of submissions, which are to be received on the online portal Film Freeway under the event title “Kitale Film Week”.

The idea of a film festival in Kitale comes at a time when the new county governor, George Natembeya has expressed his determination to improve tourism to the county. Some of the biggest festivals in the world such as Cannes, Toronto, Venice and Busan have defined cities and countries, and invited significant attention to the offerings of the cities they are situated in. Kitale Film Week seeks to continue this trend by creating a cinematic spectacle at the heart of Trans Nzoia county.

“We are not just about screening films. This festival will have lots of storytelling from local people, food and trips to some of the most amazing but relatively unknown places in Trans Nzoia. We are also running workshops for screenwriters, film editors and directors and, if all goes well, a short film fund to support our storytellers to make a leap into filmmaking,” Bwire said.

The festival kicks off its pre-festival programme this September with outdoor screenings of Biko Nyongesa’s comedy feature, “Get Some Money (2017)”, seeking to introduce the event to the rural communities of the county. Nyongesa is himself a Trans-Nzoia native who has directed other films such as “Napunyi (2020)” among others. Deadlines for festival submissions are set for the end of November while calls for applications for workshop participants will be announced in due course.

Kitale Film Week is born out of the belief in the power of cinema and heritage, and on the backdrop of succsesful film events in Kitale and elsewhere in Kenya by the organizing team, which has previously planned and managed the Festivals of Dots (2016, Nairobi) and The Hip Hop Film Festival (2018, Nairobi). Bwire also launched the award-winning short film, ‘RAISED’ in Kitale, in March 2022 which was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd.

A staunch believer in the power of cinema where the development of sustainable cities is concerned, Bwire’s passion can be traced from way back. As a Chevening scholar in 2019, he presented on the role of film in city building at a conference in Manchester, UK. He has seen many film projects stall due to a difficult terrain for local filmmakers, most notably his own production, ‘The Schemer’, set in Kitale and Kapenguria, which has slowed down since early 2020. This festival, he believes, prepares the ground for film audiences and creates demands for local stories which will make it easier for filmmakers to create and finance more films.