Kenyan Film and TV Stars Honored

The Rugged Priest, a film based on the story of John Kaiser, won big at the Kalasha Film and Television Awards Night at the Carnivore. The Bob Nyanja directed film scooped eight awards in the third edition of Kenya Film Commission inspired awards.

In television, KTN’s Changing Times and Mheshimiwa were both feted for changing TV drama and comedy. Nice Githinji was crowned the best lead actress in a TV Drama series for her role as Lisa in Changing Times. The supporting actress in a TV drama also came from the stable with Nelly Kuria as Abby in Mheshimiwa honoured. The best TV drama, which was won by Changing Times last year, went to Siri.

The best comedy went to Vioja Mahakamani and one of the crew; in an acceptance speech emotionally said it was the first time they were recognised in the 37 years the show has been on air. The man of the moment, in an emotional moment while receiving the best scriptwriter for The Rugged Priest dedicated the award to his team. Bob penned the script with Mark Mutahi, a Standard columnist.

Hot on his heels was Joy Lusige, receiving the best film editor category in The Rugged Priest. In one of the eloquent acceptance speeches of the evening, Joy said this time last year, she was editing the film when Carole Gikandi won the same award. She said to herself, "next year that will be me up there".

And it seems Joy reflects many more filmmakers. This year, according to Peter Mutie, CEO, KFC, saw submission of 129 films, made in one year. "This is significant," he said, "in the first edition of Kalasha, in films submitted from a span of 47 years, we received 159. Last year’s edition had 139 from a span of three years."

The chief guest, Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry for Information and Technology, added that Kenya is experiencing a "creative" evolution. He added that compared to the region, the Kenya film industry will only get better, as the local productions are proving to be of better quality compared to others in the region.

The audience was awed by the sneak previews of the nominated pictures, with some openly wondering, "is that really made in Kenya"? Though The Rugged Priest took the best sound and cinematography, the films nominated besides it also stood out, including Muigwithania by Wide Angle Productions and Me, My Wife and Her Guru that won the best short film. Eric Omondi from the Churchill Live won the best performance in comedy. He couldn’t resist it and he just had to crack a joke that showed the disparity between the art of acceptance speeches in Kenya and America during the Oscars.

Speaking of which, at some point the event got hurried on with winners not allowed to make speeches. It rubbed them the wrong way. Previous editions have been full of pomp and glamour and on Friday, getting to the Carnivore and ushered in to a cocktail in open ground — in dim light and bonfire chasing the cold away — it promised to be the same.

But blame it on traffic jam, or perhaps the Kenyan way of being always late, the event started at 9.30pm, three hours after the time indicated on the programme. Guests’ seemed uninterested and winners were honoured with halfhearted clapping.The master of ceremonies, June Gichui and Marcus Kwikiriza didn’t help matters. Not even Jaguar, though he charged people a bit with his Kigeugeu.

Receiving the best TV entertainment award, the audience demanded that Churchill speak to them. He also cracked a joke about sugar mummies and daddies taking the blame for the sugar shortages. Brilliant, except that the joke has been all over the place.

Perhaps the Kalasha should borrow a leaf from the Oscars, where awardees are strictly given 45 seconds to make the speech. This sees nominees practising beforehand.

The moment of the night came when Kamau Mbaya, the "child star" who plays Baha in Machachari, beat seasoned stars to clinch the coveted best lead actor in film. As PLO Lumumba, a Kalasha trustee, said in characteristic eloquence, there is no wisdom in aspiring to be taller than the shortest dwarf; "Kenyan film industry will be much bigger than Nollywood and Bollywood." The audience loved that.



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