Watershed announces a UK tour of Kenyan films after Afrika Eye success


Following sold out screenings at Afrika Eye Festival here last weekend, Watershed was delighted to announce that two new Kenyan films – Nairobi Half Life and Something Necessary – will be playing at cinemas and festivals across the UK until March 2014 as part of New Visions from Kenya: Celebrating 50 years of Independence. Audience reaction at Watershed has been outstanding for both films.

Tosh Gitonga’s internationally-acclaimed Nairobi Half Life (Kenya’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar®) and Judy Kibinge’s Something Necessary, are the result of workshops run by Marie Steinmann and Tom Tykwer’s One Fine Day Films, in partnership with Nairobi based Ginger Ink. These workshops aim to give African filmmakers a platform to tell their own stories and make films on an international scale.

The two films are being brought into wider circulation as a result of new partnerships between some of the UK’s leading African film festivals including Afrika Eye, Africa in Motion (AiM) in Edinburgh/Glasgow, the Cambridge African Film Festival and Film Africa in London, working with television network The Africa Channel.

Cinemas and festivals so far backing this significant UK-wide initiative include Showroom in Sheffield, Cornerhouse in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford, Stoke Film Theatre, Borderlines Film Festival / The Courtyard in Hereford, African Film Festival Wales, and WOW Wales One World Film Festival.

Mark Cosgrove, Watershed’s Cinema Curator says:

‘Currently only 0.01% of films shown in cinemas in the UK are from Africa. This touring initiative is about developing the availability and range of African films for increasingly diverse UK audiences. It builds on the excellent collaborative work of the UK African film festivals and partnership with broadcasters such as The Africa Channel.’

Pictured at the closing night of Afrika Eye Film Festival 2013: Justine Atkinson and Lizelle Bisschoff of Africa in Motion, Director of ‘Something Necessary’ Judy Kibinge, Director of ‘The King and the People’ Simon Bright, Director of ‘Tey’ Alan Gomis and Afrika Eye Festival Director Ingrid Sinclair.

Kenya has become the leading digitally developed country in Africa and coupled with this, the themes represented in Kenyan films are becoming more universal whilst also keeping their national particularity.

Director of Something Necessary, Judy Kibinge who visited Watershed as part of Afrika Eye explains further:

‘I think we have a testament, almost a historical piece of what Kenya certainly was, and still to some extent is. Something Necessary is a really important film that someone HAD to make, especially in these times when all we see on TV here are Korean and Mexican Soaps and music videos. It’s about hope and about revealing that no one is all evil or all good – and that all that happens in Kenya happens because each person and each community believes that what they are doing is, absolutely and always, Something Necessary.’

Throughout the year, Afrika Eye Festival collaborates with partners to bring African films from an African perspective to UK audiences, lighting up screens with the richness of African cinema, cultures and lives.

Ingrid Sinclair, Director of Afrika Eye says:

‘We show the best of African and African Diaspora films to bring a bigger picture than the mainstream gives. If we don’t show what’s happening in Kenya today, how will we find out that it’s changed since the 1950s images stuck in people’s minds?’

New Visions from Kenya: Celebrating 50 years of independence is an Afrika Eye Film Festival / Watershed touring programme in partnership with The Africa Channel. For film bookings, please email: maddy@watershed.co.uk or call 0117 927 5120.



Self-taught film-maker Michael Jenkins has become the first winner of a new talent award from Bristol’s Afrika Eye festival of African film with a proposal for a documentary about the use of blackened faces in English folk customs, including Padstow’s Boxing Day parade.

As his prize, 25-year-old Michael, who lives in Henbury, Bristol, gets a £400 script research and development bursary from the festival plus mentoring and production support from the competition’s judges: Karen Alexander, of the RCA; Martin Boothe, of B3 Media; Laura Marshall, MD of Icon Films, Bristol, and Afrika Eye’s co-founder Ingrid Sinclair.

The award announcement was made as the finale to a series of Afrika Eye events for emerging film talent that opened earlier this year with a South West wide call for ideas from under 26s with personal ties to Africa or a story on an African theme.

Congratulating Michael on his win, Ingrid Sinclair said: “This is the first year that we’ve run a scheme to encourage fresh South West-based talent but we have been delighted by the response. Entries came from a very broad range of people and covered a wide variety of ideas. To make the competition as fair as possible, we ran a workshop to help entrants to convert their ideas into a ‘pitch’ before picking a shortlist of five to go forward to our pitching forum, in front of exactly the types of people all film-makers need to impress if they want to get a production deal.”

She added: “Everyone who made it to the shortlist did extremely well but the idea from Michael Jenkins edged ahead as the one the judges could most clearly see getting made, screened and enjoyed by audiences.”

Unusually, Michael Jenkins is a self-taught film-maker who first picked up a video camera to shoot music videos for a rap group with which he performed.  He’s since set up 8th Sense Media with the help of enterprise training and a grant from the Prince’s Trust and now makes films for a wide range of customers while also working on another documentary idea about a black soldier in the British Army.

Michael received his award on the final day of Afrika Eye – the region’s biggest festival of films from or about Africa or which reflect the African diaspora.  It is held annually at Watershed, Harbourside, Bristol.

Other highlights of Afrika Eye 2013 included sold-out screenings of the internationally-successful new features Nairobi Half Life and Something Necessary from Kenya,; the multi-award-winning Tey (Senegal) and Death Metal Angola, (Angola), plus the world premiere of Simon Bright’s latest documentary The King and The People, director talks, exhibitions of kanga and photographs, children’s workshops and music from WOMAD artistes Mim Suleiman of Zanzibar and Abass Dodoo (Ghana).

Plans are now being made for a UK tour of some of the festival’s films, curated by Watershed in partnership with Afrika Eye.

Afrika Eye gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, the National Lottery funded Awards for All scheme, the University of the West of England and  Watershed.


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Media queries:

For more info, images, interviews, press tickets, etc, please contact:

Pam Beddard, Festival Publicist – 0117 987 0442/ 07767 621207; pam.beddard@btinternet.com

Pitching workshop, Nov 9 2013

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Photos from Kanga and Drumming Workshops, Nov 9

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The Use of Film In Africa – NGO Event Nov 7 2013

Temwa event

We had a turn out of 70 people for our event  ’Making Positive Change Through Film in Africa’ – at Hamilton House in partnership with Temwa, Purple Field Productions, African Initiatives, Soft Power and Deki.

Photo by Heather Paddon

Now recruiting for the BFI Film Academy, Bristol

Film Academy

Are you interested in Film and Filmmaking? Are you aged 16-19 years old? Do you want to learn from film industry professionals and get to see your creative ideas on the big screen?

They are now recruiting for the BFI Film Academy Bristol: http://bfifab.org.uk.
The deadline for applications is Wednesday 13th November.

The Academy is running one evening a week and some weekends January to March 2014 at Watershed or Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The Academy aims to equip future filmmakers in the south west. It includes free screenings at Watershed, high quality masterclasses and tutorials from professional filmmakers, creating your Silver Arts Award portfolio and making your own short film as part of a crew. Get together with people who share your filmmaking interests and talents, work in a professional but fun environment, learn what its like to work in film, find what your future in film could be!

To get in touch if you need any more information or help with the application, contact sarah.belfield@oldvic.ac.uk

Pop Up Screening: Stone Street

Stone Street

Death Metal Angola

Death Metal Angola



Focus on Women

2 EXTRAORDINARY FILMS explore the gut of what it means to be a woman. Universal yet particular, each reveals the rich complexity of their different countries, Algeria and Kenya.

Yema (18)
Sat 9 Nov 16.30 – 18.00
Dir: Djamila Sahraoui     2012     Algeria     1hr 30mins     Subtitled
Exquisitely spare and intimate, reminiscent of a classic myth, YEMA (Mother) subtly looks at gender, politics and religion. Ouardia buries her Christian son, an army soldier, outside her remote mountain hut. She blames her other son, a fundamentalist rebel, for his death.  When the rebel son is injured and seeks help, she is torn between anger and love. But despite the dilemma, Ouardia remains steadfastly herself. Fee: £8.00 full / £6.50 concs.


Something Necessary (I8) + Director’s Q & A
Sun 10 Nov 14:00 – 16.00
Dir: Judy Kibinge    2013    Kenya    1hr 25mins    Subtitled
Set in Kenya after the 2007 post-election terror, SOMETHING NECESSARY tells the gripping, heart wrenching and uplifting story of a woman’s struggle to overcome the violence which has shattered her life.

Judy Kibinge will talk about her film after the screening. Her debut film, A DANGEROUS AFFAIR received an award at the Zanzibar Film Festival in 2003. Of SOMETHING NECESSARY, her third feature, she says ‘I was so sick of making / hearing / telling these kinds of stories.  But I got, as I always do, excited by and committed to the film and in the end, I think we have a testament, almost a historical piece of what Kenya certainly was (and still is to some extent in these changing times), and this became a really important film that someone HAD to make, especially …. when all we see on TV here are Korean and Mexican Soaps and music videos’. Fee: £5.50 full /£4.00 concs

Watch ‘Something Necessary ‘and ‘Tey’ and attend the ‘What Does It Take to Belong?’ seminar for £16.00 full / £13.00 concs. 

Our 2013 festival tickets are now on sale at the Watershed, visit http://www.watershed.co.uk/whatson/season/254/afrika-eye-2013/ to find out more about our exciting programme.

For Music Lovers


Yema (Sat, Nov 9)



Director: Djamila Sahraoui

YEMA (source: VARIETY)
Algeria’s fratricidal battle between the government and fundamentalists is played at the micro level in Djamila Sahraoui’s three-hander “Yema.” Designed as a Greek tragedy, the telegraphic story is set in a stunning landscape where a mother grieves for her soldier son, killed by Islamic insurgents affiliated with his brother. Beautifully lensed by Raphael O’Byrne (“The Portuguese Nun”), “Yema” (meaning “mother”) has all the trappings of the ancient classics, yet feels equally antiquated; it’s worthy without transcending a static iconicism. Minimal fest play will accompany streaming.

Like a grieving Virgin Mary, Ouardia (helmer-scripter Sahraoui, “Barakat!”) prepares her son Tarek’s body for burial. She’s confined to her home and environs by a one-handed guard (Samir Yahia), taking orders from his superior (Ali Zarif). Gradually it’s revealed that the superior is Ouardia’s younger son, a mujahideen fighter she blames for Tarek’s death. The younger brother also stole the elder’s wife, further embittering their disconsolate mother. Everyone is wounded emotionally and physically by the country’s conflicts, and only Ouardia’s dogged cultivation of her garden produces life from the parched soil. Visuals further the sense of an epic tale recounted on a human scale.