Kibera Youth Behind the Camera – Kibera Film School article

Dinfin Mulupi reports on a Nairobi film school that seeks to transform lives through art and media.  See original article here

In the outskirts of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest slum — Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya — a group of youths sit in a small room, their eyes fixed on a computer. This is one of the editing rooms of the Kibera Film School hosted in the Hot Sun Foundation’s ( Kibera office. The Kibera Film School, one of a number of projects the foundation runs focused on impoverished urban youth and filmmaking, opened its doors in 2009.
Kibera is home to more than 1 million people who live in sheet-metal structures among heaps of dirt, broken sewage lines and crime. In a place where jobs are scarce and creative opportunities are limited, the Kibera Film School trains youth in scriptwriting, camera work, editing, directing and producing. Well-known film professionals from Kenya (Ian Mbugua and Cajetan Boy among others) work as part-time instructors.

Showing Another Side of Slum Life
One of the film school’s first graduates and the current school coordinator is 24-year-old Josphat Keya. Keya was eager to talk to AudienceScapes about this unique school that he believes gives Kibera’s youths a ticket out of a life of poverty and crime.
Keya was chosen to be one of the 10 recruits who would participate in a nine-month training on filmmaking. “I thought filmmaking is all about entertainment, but I realized, it is also an avenue to voice out and show the happenings of Kibera,” he said.
Keya believes there is another side to the crime and poverty that dominate public perception of Kibera. There are talented young people — innovative and determined to overcome life’s adversities. Through the filmmaking skills he acquired at the film school, he can tell this story to the world.

Meeting a Need for a Creative Outlet
The Kibera Film School was founded by U.S. filmmaker Nathan Collet, the Managing Trustee of the Hot Sun Foundation and Hot Sun Films, a commercial production company based in Nairobi. The film school was founded following the success of Collet’s film, “The Kibera Kid,” which focused on life in the Kibera slums. Collet, then a master’s student at the University of Southern California film school, went on to win several awards for the film.
As a way of giving back to the community in Kibera, he began small training sessions in movie production for young people. As they attracted more interest, he realized there was a need for a full-fledged film school. Today the film school is funded through donations and aid from charitable organizations.
“Having worked with local talent during the production of ‘Kibera Kid,’ I saw a lot of raw talent from the Kibera youth and decided to give them a platform to pursue these talents,” said Collet.
The 10 recruits selected for each school year are offered training free of charge with a small stipend of KSH 4,000. Before graduation, each of the trainees is expected to produce a three-minute documentary and a short fictional film in order to graduate. They are allowed to choose topics that relate to their experiences growing up in Kibera.
Graduates are later absorbed into other Hot Sun Films and Hot Sun Foundation projects, such as TV series, short films, feature films and production service projects. Trainees film their own stories and local events and get feedback at community screenings.
Some of the graduates from the 2009 class have already been absorbed into the mainstream film industry working with several film production houses. Faith Wavinya, a 2009 graduate whose family was attacked in the 2008 post-election violence, is now an assistant editor for the series produced by the pay-per-view channel MNET, Changes.

International Recognition
One of the film school’s biggest successes is the film, Togetherness Supreme, written by a 2009 trainee, Evans Kang’ethe, and Collet. The film, which was inspired by the post-election violence, received four nominations in the African Movies Academy Awards held in Nigeria on April 10, and went on to win two awards.
“Due to this success, interviews for the 2010 classes attracted nearly 60 students, but the film school can only accommodate 12 recruits to ensure all have access to cameras and computers for editing,” said Collet.
Other youth residing in the nearby slums have been knocking on the doors of the Hot Sun Foundation hoping they, too, can be given an opportunity to train at the Kibera Film School. Collet says Hot Sun Foundation hopes to duplicate the training in other Nairobi slums, like Mathare, Korogocho and Mkuru Kayaba.
“We want to change the perceptions about Kibera and other slums; there is talent in these slums. Youths who have a story to tell, a story of their struggles and how they overcome all that. We give these youths a voice to tell their stories,” said Collet.
“The long-term plan is to have a similar project in other African nations, especially within East Africa, by partnering with other organizations,” said Collet.

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page



The kids from Hot Sun Foundation Workshop enjoyed their Camera lessons, which was facilitated by Rachel, Tegan and Cody from Sisi ni Amani and their hosts Evans  and Gabriela with a trainee from Kibera Film School, Catherine Sikali.
The children got to expose themselves with still cameras and had a chance to walk around the Kibera Community whereby the theme of the day was Peace. The children got to view their work as they got motivated by their visitors about photography skills.
It was a unique experience since most of the residents in Kibera could not believe that kids from the community can have a chance to become filmmakers. This is one of the greatest projects headed by Hot Sun Foundation and we hope that it will instill children of the Kibera Community to have filmmaking as their career.

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page

On to the next

Just completed my project the previous week, and last weekend i got to work in an actual set, one of my colleagues at school was shooting a short film, got alot of experience from that.
We had a couple visitors from Germany yesterday looking at our activities at the film school, hope they had a blast and they would visit some other time.
Now looking forward to my next projects, actually supposed to come up with a narrative script before end of next week, lovely challenge. Il give you the details on how far ive reached next week. till then peoples!!
To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page


 This Sunday (11th July) we the trainees together with the Assistant Trainers came together to shoot a short fiction drama Voice From The Womb written and directed by Josphat Keya, the program coordinator. The collaboration saw most of us trainees get the first hand experience of a set. We had been delegeted to various departments, which we participated and learnt more about the respective department of a film set.
“It was a big challenge for me. Initially i was to be the Behind The Scenes person, but later changed role to be a Doctor-one of the characters. I had had to learn, master and understand the script within one hour.” Kevin Machimbo
“The story really depended on us as the Set Designers. The entire location was our offices, and we had to transform it to differents settings of a hospital.” Beatrice Aringa

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page

Class of 2010

I am Amos Owino Wandera aged 24 born in western part of Kenya  (Busia district) on 24th April 1986. I came to Kibera with my parents in 1989 and settled in a village known as Silanga in the lower part of Kibera. 
I joined school just here in Kibera, of which I completed my primary level in the year 2003, in Laini-Saba Primary School and later on, completed my o level in Soweto Baptist secondary school, in the year 2007. Never the less I started doing short courses in accounting and computer packages and other Moore. Also I worked as a local coordinator for K.D.I (Kounkouey Design Initiative) also coordinating the NNDC community group working with K.D.I in Silanga.
It was through a very high competitive selection launched at Kibera Film School. For there 2010 class that I participated in and I emerged one of the lucky ones who got the opportunity.
In the film school I aspire to become a good scriptwriter, director and editor. By the end of the classes, also produce a film that will touch most lives socially and be in unity, despite their diverse cultures’ also I believe that I can make the world proud of the skills and potentiality found within the young people living in Kibera. And also appreciate the talents available.

Aida Achieng’
I am 24 years of age and my name is Aida Achieng, I joined Kibera Film School in the month of May 11th 2010. My main aim after the training is to be a camera lady and a producer and I do believe that I am going to achieve the best of all after nine months.

 I am Beatrice Aringa, born twenty-four years of age, in Kibera Nairobi. I did my K.C.P.E at Toi Primary School and I went to Langata High School for my O level. A year later I joined A.I.C School of Hair dressing.
I joined Kibera Film School after I passed I my interview. I was so grateful because my dream had come true. When I joined Kibera Film School I came as Beatrice but after nine months I believe that I will be an editor and a best scriptwriter if I work hard. I believe that these will be possible because of the skills that I am very much willing to learn. I always believe that the more skills you acquire the cleverer you become. Knowing these it always lit my ever-burning passion to be a filmmaker.

Am Belinda Adhiambo. I was born in 11th January 1990. I went to Olympic primary school and in secondary I went to TRIKAH GALZ. I finished in 2009 my ambition is to be a producer. I live in Ayany in Kibera. My goals in Kibera film school is by the end of nine months I would like to achieve a lot of knowledge about film production and editing.



  Am Bonface Mogaka and am 20 year of age. I was born in Kenya, a place called Kisii.
I went for my primary education in Makongeni Primary School and did my O’levels from SAMETA HIGH. I applied for enrolment to Kibera Film School and was selected for an interview on which I was able to join the 2010 class.
My first experience was in theatre arts on which I acted in local theatres. I hope to expand my knowledge in filmmaking industry and as a career. My aim is to impact a positive attitude and promote hope to our growing societies through films.
I’m Catherine Sikali, am twenty-two years old. I was born in Busia District in Western part of Kenya. I attended my primary school education at Khunyangu and joined Lwanya Girls’ Secondary School in 2003, both in Western Kenya.I came to Kibera in 2006 after my forth form to try my luck. Through the help of uncle, I joined Andrew Crawford Media Training School in 2007 and later graduated with a Diploma in Mass Communication in the year 2008 in Nairobi.
My long-term ambitions have been to change the society in a more positive way. That’s the reason why I find a blessing to join Kibera Film School because I know that is only through film industry that I will be able to achieve my ambition. I joined the school on 5th May 2010. I believe that with God’s guidance I will make it in film industry.
Clarence Ilavonga are my real names, a gentleman aged 22 years old Kenyan citizen but I was born in Uganda at a place called Mugoywa, we shifted from Uganda the year 1990 and came to settle in Kenya –Nairobi precisely at Kibera Olympic where I started schooling at Olympic primary then transferred to Kileleshwa Primary School where I graduated for my certificate level in Kenya certificate for primary education.
I went to Riruta central High school (2003-2007) attaining my certificate for o level while still in high school had great passion and dreams, I was a journalist, patron of drama club and best in literature writing where I participated in various competitions and awarded certificate.
Through my hardworking I have wished my dreams to come into reality whereby I came across Kibera film school the year 2010 and was interviewed, due to my creativity was later contacted and given an exam and passed. Now am one of their member and am proud of that because through this am able to figure my dreams come into reality being a producer and an editor foremost helping the community at large basically Kibera and its outskirts. 

I am Evarline Nyaaga I am twenty-four years born in Trans-Mara I went to Ongata Barrikoi Primary and I join Ongata Barrikoi Secondary. I came to Nairobi in 2006 I did certificate in counseling at Kibera Line Saba. In the year 2009 I was working in Coptic Hospital as waitress.
In the year 2010, I joined Kibera Film School as a trainee after I passed all my interviews. My goal is to become a filmmaker in future. My dream is to make Kibera a better place of living. I believe after this period I will be able to do editing in one of our media studio, with the skills that I will learn I know that I will make it


My name is Francis Martin, am 22yrs of age and a Christian. Am 5.8 tall and brown in complexion. I live at Kibera Gatwekera in Kenya .I have attained O’level and also have knowledge in Information technology (IT)
Before I joined Kibera Film School I was helping my aunt to run a shop. Then the year 2010 I joined Kibera Film School as a trainee in a very competitive interviews but I was among the best to join film school
 My zeal is mostly vested on film making mostly editing, camera and scriptwriting. Though am also good at others my dreams are to be a scriptwriter of all times to make it to the international market. After the film school I will like to further my studies or serve in areas called. Here at kibera film school I expect the best of knowledge and skills thanks to Africalia Belgium, and partners of Hot Sun Foundation who enabled this.
John Asalu Opondi of age 23 born 20th 0f September 1987. I’m of African decent born and raised in the capital of Kenya Nairobi. I currently reside at Kibera. I’m the first born in a family of three having two brothers.
I have completed both elementary and high school education as per the Kenyan syllabus. Finished my 8yrs of primary / elementary education in the year 2000 then started off 4years of high school education in 2002 and finished in 2005. I went into college to further my studies as a computer engineer for 3 years as from 2007 to 2009 to attain an advanced diploma in computer science, im yet to finish off with a BS’c honors / Degree that goes for another 3years or so.I’m currently enrolled as a trainee at Kibera film school located in Kibera to garner knowledge in filmmaking. Apart from the normal studies im also a self taught music producer, have been recording and composing music and musical instrumentals for about 3 years as in from 2007 to 2009. I greatly aspire to be a movie director, a scriptwriter and film editor hopefully before or after my studies here at Kibera film school that is in the next 9 months or so. I’m certain my musical skills would add as an advantage to the filming techniques I’ll be acquiring here at the film school, this should serve as a perfect base line or foundation as a great filmmaker.  


My name is Kevin Machimbo and I live in Kibera. I was born on October 26th 1989 in Nairobi Kenya, and at the age of 5yrs old I started my pre-primary education, where after completion I was admitted to primary level of education at the age of 6yrs old in class one. After finishing my primary level at the age of 14yrs old, I enrolled for my secondary Level of education at the age of 15yrs old, in which I schooled until I attained my certificate at the age of 18yrs old. Now I am a student at Kibera film school where I am pursuing my filming course.
  I joined Kibera film school because I always wanted to be a great filmmaker, and man of great influence in my society, a man who influences youth’s positively. And to do so Kibera film school offered me a great opportunity to use filmmaking as an art to influence my fellow youths in Kibera, by making films about their every day hard hustle, health issues and the injustice that they face each and every day in Kibera. At first I knew nothing about Kibera film school but a friend of mine who lives in Kibera told me about it, and so I decided to give it a try, I waited for like a month and one day I was called to join the class of 2010 intake.
  My future dreams are to become a great filmmaker who motivates youths through film making, and to produce movies that will influence and inspire them to be great men. My expectations as a trainee in Kibera films are to produce movies that will be loved, and be used as a tool of change to my fellow youth men, movies that will be embraced from generation to generation.


I’m Sandra Jarenga Owaka; I was born on the sixth September 1987 in Kibera Kianda Nairobi district. I went to Malinda primary school in western province later on Uthiru high school for my secondary education.  I joined Kibera film school on 5th of May 2010 after excelling my interviews. I was happy because I thought God had answered my prayer after I had struggled to go to college and all was in vain. 
I’d always wanted to take media as my career subject and I hope and I’ll make it and my goals of becoming an editor and journalist will go through.

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page

The my world project

Just finished editing my first project here at the film school, a whole month of research and hard work. i like the final product though, I’m starting to believe that the best part in the whole process is accomplishing and having your end product. Its up for upload soon hope guys will enjoy it, Kibera Film School 2010 class, be ready for crazy stuff from these guys.

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page


This kicked off on a good start as children from different parts of Kibera joined the children’s workshop of filmmaking. The workshop is known to be one of the major activities done in Kibera Film School by the pioneer students of the school. It goes on for two months for the first children attendance. The main aim of the workshop is to sensitize and put emphasis on Togetherness.

It is a good foundation to enable not only the youth but also small children from Kibera to tell their stories and to communicate to the community and the outside world. We at Kibera Film School hope to achieve a dream of community filmmakers.

To support the great youth of the Kibera Film School, please visit our Global Giving Page