East African Wildscreen Festival in Nairobi

After four groups joined together to organise the inaugural East African Wildscreen Festival in Nairobi, Kenya's breathtaking scenery will be honoured later this month on a worldwide scale.

The festival, which is being billed as Wildscreen's first-ever African event, will take place from June 30 to July 1 at the Alliance Française in Nairobi, with BBC Studios Natural History Unit serving as the event's lead sponsor.

A collaboration between Wildscreen, BBC Studios Natural History Unit, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Film Commission, WildlifeDirect, and the African Wildlife Foundation led to the creation of the festival.

The worldwide partnership of non-profit conservation groups and collaborators in the wildlife filming industry will highlight the continent's vibrant, innovative, and distinctive tales. Africa is one of the biggest and most actively shot regions of the natural world.

Dr Erustus Kanga, the acting director general of KWS, said that they are at the beginning of a common adventure and are united in their desire to save and maintain the great Kenyan parks and the world as a whole.

"Through our collaboration with Wildscreen, we are going to leverage the power of storytelling, film, and creativity to inspire worldwide audiences and drive long-lasting positive change in environmental conservation," said Kanga.

According to Kanga, the festival will raise awareness, tell engaging tales, and inspire people to engage in the crucial task of animal conservation for future generations.

He said, "With commitment, cooperation, and a firm conviction in our capacity to overcome obstacles, we shall secure a sustainable and prosperous future for animals and humans alike.

Along with showcasing top local storytellers and filmmakers, the awards ceremony will commemorate Kenya's growth as a major global cinema centre and provide networking, commissioning, and job possibilities.

All of these groups are working together for the first time, resulting in an original partnership with a specific goal in mind: to create a collective effect.

Nairobi is the first Global Hub from the Wildscreen Festival 2022 plan to advance and expand by staging its own event, reflecting the goals and objectives of the partners.

Jahawi Bertolli, a National Geographic Explorer, iLCP Associate Fellow, and award-winning Kenyan filmmaker, will serve as the festival's host. He will bring with him his knowledge of growing up in Kenya and his love of natural history storytelling.

In a major interview, Dr Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect and host of the National Geographic series "The Secrets of the Elephants," will talk with Kartiki Gonsalves, the first Indian filmmaker to ever receive an Academy Award for her short documentary debut, "The Elephant Whisperers," which she directed.

According to Kahumbu, Kenya is recognised for its breathtaking natural landscapes, animals, and iconic locations, all of which provide a multitude of filmmaking prospects.

"The Wildscreen Festival is a launchpad for advancing the wildlife filmmaking industry in Africa, which will have a positive effect on both our economies and ecological conservation," she said.

Timothy Owase, CEO of the Kenya Film Commission, commended the festival's organisers for acknowledging Africa's contribution to the field of wildlife filmmaking.

Owase said that throughout the years, the continent—and Kenya in particular—has given producers stunning settings teeming with unusual species.

"We look forward to continuing our engagement to ensure the sector's growth."

The festival, according to Wildscreen CEO Lucie Muir, offers an exciting endeavour that is built out of genuine cooperation to highlight ground-breaking tales and storytellers from throughout the continent.

"The talent pool is deep, and we intend to contribute to enhancing Kenya's already excellent reputation as the premier location for wildlife films in Africa. 

"The opportunities for our industry to foster careers and creativity while supporting Africa's wildlife storytelling economy are unbelievable."

Jonny Keeling, director of the BBC Studios Natural History Unit, expressed his company's excitement about being the primary sponsor of Wildscreen Nairobi, which would honour and commemorate the crucial contribution made by African storytellers to the field of wildlife filmmaking.

A keynote session called Wild Pitch, sponsored by National Geographic, will be held during the Nairobi event.

Six African-born or African-based filmmakers, both upcoming and seasoned, will be chosen for the session. They will present their film concept to an international commissioning panel and compete for a cash award to support their production.

Janet Han Vissering, Senior Vice President, Programme Development and Production at National Geographic, and Jonny Keeling, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, will be on the expert panel.

The festival will also reveal a bursary plan to aid two up-and-coming Kenyan filmmakers.

The festival programme is being curated with the help of a festival advisory board that includes, among others: Caroline Cox, production executive, BBC Studios Natural History Unit; Kahumbu; Michael Masheti, production and liaison officer, Kenya Film Commission; and Nashipae Orumoy, director of strategic communications, African Wildlife Foundation.

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