The auditorium at Catholic University of Eastern Africa on June 11, 2016, was filled with more than 150 senior students, recent graduates and alums from St. Aloysius Secondary School in Nairobi, and faculty and students from Catholic University of Eastern Africa(CUEA) and from Tangaza University College. This enthusiastic crowd came together on this day to celebrate films made by the participants in the Film for Good program. This initiative is part of the Loyola University Chicago School of Communication (SOC) Africa Project in collaboration with CUEA. Africa Circle of Hope Foundation is one of the major sponsors of Film for Good. The coordinator for the 2016 SOC Africa Project is Dr. Patricia Felkins, Co-Founder and Vice President of Africa Circle of Hope.
This day of celebration, culminating the two-week workshop, included a panel of media professionals sharing their work experience and career resources in the morning session. In the afternoon the films made in the workshop were screened followed by a discussion with the young filmmakers and presentation of certificates to those who completed the media training.
The two-week workshop provided an opportunity for graduates from St. Aloysius interested in media careers to learn about scriptwriting, film production and editing. After the classroom training, the teams went into the Kibera slums to film their stories. Aaron Greer, Director of the Film and Digital Media Program at Loyola University Chicago, was the workshop leader. Jamason Chen, SOC Media Manager provided technology support and set up a media production lab for CUEA. The Film for Good workshop participants were the first to use this new lab. Professional video cameras and computers with editing software were donated to CUEA by Loyola University Chicago and the School of Communication.
The objectives of Film for Good point toward continuing educational development, establishing practical media applications and increasing available resources.
- To teach basic filmmaking skills and give young people experience as part of a production team to make a short film that reflects their experience, creative ideas or perspectives on social justice issues.
- To promote film as a platform for communication and development, a stage for creative expression, and a powerful educational resource for students, faculty and community.
- To build relationships and develop opportunities for continuing collaboration and communication between faculty and students in Kenya and U.S.
- To develop a support network with online resources, media facilities and mentoring to help students and recent graduates practice communication and media skills, explore available career opportunities and find jobs.
Film for Good 2016 created a strong foundation for accomplishing these objectives. Each of the four teams from the workshop made informative and engaging short films dealing with a specific theme: gambling and betting, innovation and entrepreneurship, girl child empowerment, and youth unemployment. These films were applauded by the audience and will be entered in several film festivals in the coming months.
Another highlight of the event was the powerful presentations by young Kenyan poets coordinated by Kennet B, who has worked with Africa Circle of Hope poetry workshops in the Nairobi slums. These performances also inspired Chris O`Hare, an international filmmaker and moderator of the professional career panel, to use some of the workshop participants to produce a film featuring five of the poets in the days following the workshop. Other films in planning stages include a multidisciplinary faculty/student group focusing on collaborative efforts to clean up the polluted Nairobi River.
The team of 16 young people who were trained in the workshop want to establish a nonprofit or community-based organization to continue working together on creative film productions. They will also be available to help faculty at CUEA as crew members for making educational films.
Film for Good was a genuine success on many levels. Catholic University of Eastern Africa now has a professional media production lab that will be available to students, faculty and community members. Key support staff have training in using the equipment and software. Other films are in production or planning. Workshop participants and other students and graduates now have a support network that includes the professionals on the career panel who offered to provide mentoring and career resources. CUEA faculty in E-Learning, Development Studies, Justice and Peace, Literature, and Entrepreneurship are ready to explore the opportunities that the film training and the media production lab create for them and their students. Film for Good continues to generate creative work and innovative educational projects. Africa Circle of Hope is proud to support this unique collaborative educational initiative.