Submission Guidelines for Slum Film Festival starting on 3rd-12th august 2012.

Slum Film Festival  

(3rd -12th August) 2012



Submission Eligibility

· The festival welcomes film submissions of any country that are made by and about the slums.

· You may submit short films of all production techniques and genre including drama (maximum duration 20mins), documentary (maximum duration 20mins), music (maximum duration 20mins), Public Service Announcement (maximum duration 1mins), and Community News reporting or feature (maximum duration 10mins). Exploitation and pornography genres are not eligible.


A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is a type of advertisement featured on media with an intention of public interest by raising awareness of an issue affecting public attitudes and potentially stimulating action. Mostly they talk of health, environmental issues.

· The primary contact completing the application form must be authorized to submit the film for consideration including permission from a distributor or sales agent representing the film and must have obtained necessary permission for the inclusion of copyrighted music and/or images within the films.

Submission Format

Films for consideration must be submitted on DVD only. The title, screening format and running time must be clearly labeled on the DVD cover. Submitted copies will not be returned.

Entry Fees

There are no any fees charges for submission of any films.

Deadline All entry forms, film submissions must be received by 5pm on 15th June 2012.

Selection and Notification

We will confirm that we have received your entry by email.

Every submission is watched from start to finish and reviewed by an invited jury that includes the festival organizers and professional filmmakers. Films are selected based on the quality of narrative and production values – regardless of budget.

If your entry is selected, you may be asked to supply a screening format of your film. You will be advised of the format we require, publicity material and important shipping information. Due to restrictions of screening facilities at some venues, DVD may be the format that films are screened. Successful entrants will be notified of their inclusion in the festival by 30 June 2012.

A list of all films selected will be made available on our website We aim to contact all unsuccessful applicants by 30th June 2012. The festival cannot enter into individual correspondence regarding films that have not been selected.

Foreign Language Films

If the original language of any dialogue or text featured in the film is not English, the preview and screening copy must be subtitled in English.


The festival reserves the right to reproduce stills and clips of selected films for festival publicity – this includes print, festival trailers, website promotion, press, TV coverage and screenings to promote the event. The festival will publish the email and telephone number for the primary contact and distributor in the festival catalogue of all films selected for the programme.


Submissions should be sent to:

Festival Submissions Slum Film Festival 2012 c/o Hot Sun Foundation Kibera Olympic

PO BOX 30933, Nairobi, Kenya.


If you have any queries, please email: or call +254 020 251 6909. 9:00am-4:30 pm +3GMT. We look forward to receiving your films.


Slum Film Festival

(3rd-12th August) 2012



Please TYPE or PRINT your information clearly


Film Details

Film Title: _____________________________________________________

Date of Completion: _____________________________________________

Running Time: _____MINS SECS

Original Format

HD        o HDV      o DV o Other, please specify:

Digital Screening Formats Available (please tick all that are available)

DVD    o

Aspect Ratio

4:3          o  16:9     o

Audio Format

Stereo  o

If stereo, does your soundtrack make use of stereo effects? YES/NO*



If your film includes music, is it original?

Yes         o  No         o

If no, has all copyright clearance been received in respect of your entry?

Yes         o  No         o

(It is the filmmaker’s responsibility to obtain copyright clearance)

Main Genre (please only tick one)

oCommunity news reporting or feature


oPublic Service Announcement (PSA)



 Other, please specify:

Short Synopsis (50 words maximum)

Main Credits

Director: ______________________________________________________

Writer: ________________________________________________________

Producer: _____________________________________________________

Screening History (including festivals & broadcast)

Prizes or Awards






Your Contact Information

Name: ________________________________________________________

Position with Film _______________________________________________

Company: _____________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________

Telephone No: _________________________________________________

Email: ________________________________________________________

Website: ______________________________________________________


Kibera Kwa Wakenya

An initiative of Kibera Film School and Hotsun Foundation together with other youth groups in Kibera such us Jah Army,YGB (young black and gifted). Today the students sacrificed their class time to get out and reach to the community on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Turkana who are dying from starvation. Wait a minute,if you though Kibera could not donate then you thought wrong!

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The Flying Kites and Good Makers Shoot.

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The documentary film shooting going on in Nairobi Kenya, a collaboration between the non-profit film production company GoodMakers Films from LA, Flying Kites, and Hot Sun Films/foundation. Children and youth from 5 Oasis Member Homes (including 2 in Kibera) have been selected to participate in creative workshops, led by 2008 Malta Guinness Pan African Street Dance champions Dashy Krew and the GoodMakers Street Team, with the goal of fostering self empowerment, creative expression, and giving a voice to orphaned and vulnerable children from Nairobi. On August 20th, the children will perform on stage at the Oasis Festival, a huge live music event to be held in Kibera. Some of Kenya’s biggest pop stars including Jimmy Gait, Daddy Owen, Emmy Kosgei, Eric Omondi, and Dashy Krew will be performing. This is the spirit of team building! Join us.

Pomp And Colour On The Final Day Of The Slum Film Festival.

A great day it was indeed! The crowd surged and by 3.00pm the Kamukunji grounds were full of people from all walks of life coming together to celebrate a great day in the slums history in regards to the film industry. History was created here. The Festival was a huge,huge success and without the support of the local community we would not have made it possible. We give back our gratitude and say thank you for your overwhelming support. We also want to thank the Spanish Embassy,Slum Tv,Nairobi Art Center…. Your support has been evident through partnering with us and combining efforts to change the slums through the lens and giving it a voice. Thats what this event was all about and still will be about.

For a while now Hotsun foundation has been giving the youth of the slums a voice and a platform to showcase their creativity through media and arts and the have been able to transform many. The slum Film Festival is just but a tip of the iceberg of better things that are yet to come and judging from the turn out Slum Film Festival Entertained and changed many perceptions about slums. This was a slum event.


Section of the ecstatic crowd.

Baba Guston a local reggea artist entertaining the crowd.

Chief Guest,The spanish cultural attachee Federico Olivieri arriving together with other guests.

The Kuruka Maisha Acrobats entertain the crowd. This is what they do best,ACROBATICS!

Jubilant Kibera Film School Students at the venue of the Film Festival. Some of their films were screened to the thousands of audiences who turned up for the event that lasted for a total of 10 days.

The DJ setting up the pace of the festival. Trust me he enchanted the crowd leaving them yearning for more.

The Spanish Embassy cultural attache addresses the jubilant crowd.

Mercy Murugi,Kibera Film School director talks about the future of Slum Film Festival,her expectations and Hopes. The future could just be bright!!

Performing a jig for the hard earned certificate! One of the participants could not hold back his joy upon receiving his certificate. It was worth the energy.

The workshop facilitators were not left behind too. All the hard work,effort and time they put in this project was recognized in the form of a certificate.

Pomp,colour,style,swag….. you name it,it characterized the Festival and here at Hotsun as it is with our motto we do it to perfection and style! We lead the way.

Judging from the entire Festival,the jubilant and thrilled crowds, The Slum Film Festival Is here to stay and will conclude by saying let us meet next year. Be a part of this Phenomenal and unstoppable force that will touch the lives of many a soul! Long Live Slum Film Festival!


The previous week and this week has been full of activities here in Kibera Film School and hotsun foundation. This is the week that saw the Film Festival workshops began and then followed by the screenings at the Kamukunji grounds in Kibera. It was pomp and colour as the event began on high spirits from both the guests and the hosts. In this case the hosts being Kibera Film School and Hotsun Foundation.

Day 1 of the workshop

The Participants were thrilled to be part of the 3 day workshop.

A section of the workshop participants sharing.

Guest tutor Jules,an actress from hollywood takes the students through a rigorous exercise of story building.

Keen participants ready to grasp every detail they could absorb.

Learning appears to be fun for these new students in the film industry.

Day 2 workshop

After the participants were taken through the steps of developing a story they were on their own trying to come up with wonderful story ideas that they would use for their 1 minute fiction story.

Group ! brainstorming on their story idea.

The smile on the face pf group two says that they now got it!

The participants getting feedback from one of the instructors standing by.

I think we got it! Group one seems to have discovered what makes a good story.

Discussing their way forward!


The mood of the crowd that kept swelling by the minute was jubilant.It was pomp,colour and style the first ever Slum film festival was launched on Tuesday the 10th of August 2011. Several artist curtain raised the event enchanting the crowd.

Some of the Kibera Hamlets Acrobats in action. Breath taking! KIbera got diverse talents.

Getting the screen ready for its required purpose needs nothing than team work and It took combined effort of all to get it up. Here its always about teamwork.

A section of the crowd that turned for this one of a kind event.

A Kibera Tv journalist running to capture the action as it happens in real time. Kibera Tv the home of Kibera, In the heart of Kibera.

Some of the spectators marveled at the wonders of Kibera in regards to talent.

Getting the Projector ready. In film,this is what matters! why we and they are gathered here today.

Wonders of Kibera! We call it home.

Poetry at its best!

Indeed film is transforming the lives of many throughout the slum. Not only the youth but the old and children. Film delivers a powerful message. The main aim of the Slum Film Festival is to transform and spread the need of peace and unity in this once torn region. We are getting there. Watch this space for more updates on what is cutting down here in KIBERA!

Slum Film Festival

Today the Slum Film Festival was launched. It is a pilot film festival that will focus on the films made by and about the slums. This pilot project will focus on the images around the slums around Nairobi with the vision of expansion to include films from around the world in the future editions. The workshop will officially kick off on 6th August 2011 and will run through to the 23rd of the same month. It will start with workshops that will give the participants a thorough and intensive course in filmmaking and screenings of the projects created there after. The application forms can be picked at the Hotsun foundation offices and its open for young people between the ages of 18yrs-30yrs.

There are plenty of reasons why a public film event in the slums can become a positive initiative for the slums and its artists. These event seeks to raise more public attention while changing the people’s perspective towards these spaces and the people who live in these areas.

The film event can become a platform for the film scene of the slums to reach both International and local film festival circuit and facilitate broader opportunities for the filmmakers in these areas.

This film event can be used to spread a different and more realistic picture of the slums. Generally, the slums are related to health issues,environmental issues, social issues,etc and the slum film festival seeks to demonstrate that together,this critical conditions can be denounced and slums are also home to very talented, creative and culturally active actors.

This film festival could help shift the perception of slums as spaces for the film industry as locations but as a center of productions or the producer of the story. This would allow more actors and directors to work together and to create bigger synergies for the development of the local cultural industry.

This event could also be a magnet for media attention while changing media discourse about slum realities. The media presence can also allow mainstream media to acknowledge the presence of smaller slum based content producers such as Kibera TV and Slum TV in the process promoting new partnerships.

The Slum Film Festival is a joint project of the Spanish Embassy(Kenya),Hotsun Foundation,Slum TV,AECID (Spanish Agency Of International Cooperation) in collaboration with the Nairobi Art Center.

Changing our beliefs system is central to making any real and lasting change and thus why we are trying to change the picture and perception of the slum through social transformation through media and arts.

A section of Kibera Slum

Kibera Film School Fresh Classes Begins Monday 8th August 2011

It has been a busy week for us at the Film School the last week. There had been a lot of activities going on and among them was the interview panel had just sat to begin it’s work for selecting the next candidates for the school.

Part of the judges who were interviewing the candidates who are to be the next proud Kibera Film School scholarship program, Wanjiru Kinyanjui,Extreme right and Kevin Machimbo.

Meet the three judges, Wanjiru Kinyanjui, Kevin Machimbo and Wilfred Masea,performing an interview for one of the candidates.

Some of the candidates waiting to get into the interview room. You could tell there was too much tension and anxiety. Don’t worry it’s just a process of life. It will be fine.

Tough looking judge Wilfred Masea seems to be needing answers. “So tell me why you need this chance?”
Tic Toc!

Continue reading

Bathday……….. Literally speaking! Kibera Film School, A Lifestyle.

They say too much work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! So when an opportunity to play and have fun happened to avail itself we embraced it whole heartedly. In Kibera Film School, birthdays don’t pass unnoticed because this are the rare opportunities that have the excuse to party and so we party in style. We always give the best birthday parties one will ever remember, or is it bath day?

Ssshh! It’s not meant for everyones ear. It all starts by plotting against the party boy/girl…… in this case it’s a boy! The Chief Schemers!

Everyone gathers around waiting for the chief guest who happens to be BIRTHDAY BOY. Those are evil smiles pasted on everyone’s face. After reading this you will understand why I say EVIL!

r    “Oh! Really?” Yes Really! A birthday cake for you Mr. Brian. “I am too old for birthdays” Came the protest. But we still want you to have it.Please have your cake and eat it!


And the beautiful strawberry cake was  presented to Sir Brian.  Gripped with Emotions he could not hide his….. Was that a tear I saw? Surprises is our greatest weakness. He never expected that we knew His Bday,well shock on him! We at Kibera Film School embrace and learn people. The greatest resource in life is Relationships,learn how to connect with people at the deepest level and be rewarded.

  And his cake he had. Presented to him from the deepest of our heart. Happy Birthday Brian……….So the crowd sang.  “All these for me?” “Yes Brian. All that for you.” When the deal is too good? I am not smiling.

  The Mouth watering creamy strawberry cake. Anyone would die to get a bite. Wait I was robbed off. He gave me a small bite……….. “Hey I want more!” I shall not be denied.


“Hurry up with the cutting dude” The eagerness spoke volumes. Dying to have a bite but Brian took his time. He seemed to have wanted his cake to himself. Bad Idea Brian! The folks wont let you.

“It’s a taboo to cut cake with all your valuable, here let me keep for you safely until when we are done. other than the watch,what else do you have?” “My Ipod, my phone. I dont do wallets!” “Great! Here let me help you with them”. And so he allowed himself to be lured blindly.

    “Let me choose the biggest piece.” “On what grounds? Give me a reason?” The cake has to go round,get it round. Anticipation. Everyone was salivating! Cant wait for my turn 🙂

    Ohhh! Crude! The party had now began. It is official to get a bath on your bath day. Brian Wept. “I have been conned” You should have thought twice Brian!

   “Oh! Remind me again how I allowed you to lead me to the slaughter. This is not fair. You can’t do this. I will sue all of you”   “Give back our cake…….. ”  The deal was already sealed long before. Hey B enjoy your mid afternoon bath you poor thing.

And everyone took turns to water him. Hope he grows taller after all these. Hey but be careful, what goes around comes around! KARMA.


Cheers! B. Today is your lucky day. You just won yourself a free bath. Hey guys,dont you have any pity left for this Kid????

Not yet. Just one more super drum and I will be satisfied 🙂  Devilish grin.


Then B drenched. “Where will i get change of clothes guys? If it does not rain today where will you find water again? Remember globalwarming? Its real.”   “Silence B.Silence. Hush now.”

And from today henceforth you shall no longer be called Brian but B.


You better be careful what you do to me, coz it might turn around on  you!

But she kept right on. I told her to stop it again but she still could not listen and so………. I was upset.

I am getting back at you guys. Any one wants face me head to head? Pay back time. They all scampered to dryness.

I told you to watch out for KARMA. What goes around finally catches up with you. But what a great photo.When life hands you lemons,turn them into lime juice

Bam! She was his first victim and he attacked mercilessly. Oh! no I am not yet done with you and you will pay the sins of all of them. She screams and there is no one to rescue her. SOS!

Poor her. No help came her way because everyone else chose to spectate…… Interesting turn of event.

DE-FEA-TED! He finally gave up! His arms stretched underneath the sweater. I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE GUYS.Spare me. I will not shower for the next one month. A solemn vow he made. I will ensure you dont!

We are gravely sorry for everything. Really,we are sorry…………..Do you think she is honest? I don’t. Check out that look, behind her mind “Its only coz we ran out of water otherwise!”

That was a good break alright now get back to work.

Truce Man! Happy Birthday. May you live to be wiser!

I am going home, I am going home. I need to change into fresh clothes.O boy! We sure worked on B. GO HOME B.

They say life is in seasons and so we spend time in seasons too. There is a time for everything. A time to play,a time to plant, a time to sow, a time to reap. Just like the seasons.

Kibera Film School teaches how to be all rounded, a basic skill that we equip ourselves with from this institution that is one of a kind.

Different actions produce different results Any action is a cause set in motion and its effects builds in the past effect to move us in a definite direction.

Every direction leads us to an ultimate destination, A destination we prepare for now.

Hollywood Academy Delegation Meets Kibera Film School. WooH!

Kibera Film school was privileged to host a delegation of filmmakers from hollywood who came to Kenya for the Film Africa Workshops. Before they came to the school some of the students had the opportunity to attend their screening and the Q&amp;A sessions at the silverbird cinema in prestige plaza Ngong road. During this time they were able to teach and also just show how the films were made and the audience would ask questions. They came with them the richness of hollywood and we actually felt like hollywood was in kenya.

The delegation included -:

Alfre Woodard: 

Actress who has won almost 26 award in the film industry. She is known for films like A Family That Preys and Crooklyn a legendary film she stirred in 1994.

She first made her debut in this industry in 1974 and since then she is considered to be one of Americas most talented and one of the most successful actress.

Her visit to the film school really inspired many who really look up to her as a role model. Just having her watch the films we had made and actually giving back positive feedback overwhelmed us. Her personality too stood out. Our doors are always open for you and we look forward to seeing you again.

Carol Littleton:

Carol Has been editing major hollywood features from as early as the 70’s. She first stumbled into the industry as an assistant editor and since then she never left the editing room. She has been able to win an award with her editing. Her simplicity in editing is what takes it home. she knows how to hit the emotions of the viewer and that is key in editing. She has edited films such as Country song, Muncharian Candidate etc. We were glad to have her watch our pieces and actually give positive feed back. I think this was the breakthrough moment that the school needed! Really, Hope we meet again this time in hollywood 🙂

Ellen M. Harrington:

She is the director of Exhibitions, Special Events and International outreach for the Academy. During her 17yrs in this post, she has organized and designed the installation for over seventy exhibitions. A great thank you for her organizing all the events such as the one that saw the academy come alive in Kenya and mostly in Kibera. Thank you again.

John Bailey:

One of the finest cinematographer and director in hollywood. He has been in the film industry since 1971 till present. The students in Kibera Film School loved him immidiatley because of his good nature and easy to interact. He is well known for sharing the skills he has acquired with the youth and is one of the mentors in the Kodak and UCLA. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers since 1985 and is also member of the jury in Venice Film Festival in 1987. Hope you come back and mentor us too

Phil Alden Robinson:

A film director and a screenwriter. He has won a writers guild of America award and an oscar for the best screenplay adaptation.He was named the screenwriter of the year in 1990.He is currently the vice president of Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Inspiration and hope is what you brought with you in Kibera Film School and we are proud that you paid us a visit. Your appreciation of what we do here lays humbly beneath our hearts. And the dream continues…………… All the writers here in the school are putting their thoughts together. Thank you for coming, It meant a lot for us.

Stephanie Allain:

Has come along way. She began her carreer as a script reader in the industry and now she is one of Pioneers in the industry and now the president of Homegrown Pictures. She has been produced El Mariachi, Black Snake Moan among other films. Your success is indeed an inspirational story that gave the youth of Kibera Film School hope. Nothing is ever really lost if you work towards it. That was a lesson well learnt and we the Students of Kibera Film School HOPE that we get there too. Asante Sana!

Wynn Thomas:

Started working in the theaters as a teenager. He became an assistant art director on such films as The Cotton Club, The Money Pit and Brighton Beach Memoirs. And has been the Art director in Breach, Analyze this, Get Smart etc just to name but a few.

He is said that he could turn anything into whatever that is needed. Just watching some of the sets he had designed was really cool. He spells success at what you do and that is exactly what we needed at this moment.You inspired us.

Willie Burton:

The sound engineer. Two time oscar winner for sound. Is the first black to actually be accepted in the International Sound Technician Union making him one of the pioneers in his field. He has done sound for films such as the Shawshank Redemption, Which actually is an excellent film and Dream girls which also bagged him one of his Oscar award. He trained as an electronic technology and engineering which first him a job at the navy.

Mercy Murugi, The director of Kibera Film School and a trustee of Hotsun Foundation together with Alfrie Woodard at the Hotsun foundation Premises.This was a great moment for  everyone including our trustees who facilitated the whole event. Kudos and Thumbs up for all of you.

And it was time for a group Photo with everyone in the school and nobody wanted to miss out on this rare memorabilia. A chance that got us to meet Hollywood’s finest. And so everyone grabbed a spot. Forever we shall cherish this moment its written in our hearts and minds too.This was a good experience for the  film student and interns at the foundation. It is with deep gratitude that we want to thank the Guests for taking their time off the busy schedule just to be able to be there and share with us. Indeed we are humbled and we want you to come back again, Welcome and Karibu sana. And to the Trustees Thanks for giving us this rare opportunity. Thank you so much.

Wycliffe Mboya on the set of Flourescent Sin

I was the assistant camera person in this production, working with cameraman Victor Ombogo. I got the chance to network, and I met prolific industry players like Jim Bishop who gave me tips and words of advice. For example, he told me that quitting is never an option, no matter the circumstances.

Inspired, I discovered my areas of specialization. These are lights and grips, and camera work. With the knowledge I gained from my mentors, I hope to further improve my skills as a camera person.


MOSES OUMA: “Work on this set ran between the 31st of May and the 20th of June 2011. In the mornings, I mounted the Red One Camera. In the evenings, I packed it up after the shoot. I worked with the Director of Photography, took care of the camera lenses and ND filters, and also ensured that the camera battery was fully charged for the day’s shoot.

I learnt how to handle the Red One Camera. I also learnt the intricacies of the various departments of a film set, as well as how to work with the dolly and boom. I discovered that my area of interest is camera work and that in the future, I would like to work more as the Director of Photography. The experience was great; I only hope we shall have many more opportunities like this to hone our skills.”

Berry Muga: “In the beginning, I was the assistant set designer. Three days later, I became the set designer when the head of my department undertook other duties.

I worked with the lighting and grips department. I ensured that the cast had the required props on set. I learnt the importance of teamwork in any production. I also got the opportunity to be an extra in the film.

Filmmaking is fun, but it is also hard work. Sometimes we worked until 2am. Nonetheless, I remain undeterred in my quest to work in the film industry. I look forward to a long fulfilling career as an art designer, actor, director and script writer.”

Working on the set of Guerilla Boy: Alice’s, Wicky’s and Vinny’s experiences.

VINCENT ODUOR: “I worked as the set runner and third assistant director. I called the shots, arranged for the scenes and supervised other departments.

I learnt to distinguish between various assistant directors. For example, the second assistant director ensures that the cast gets on set in time. This director does the paper work and handles the crew’s schedule.

On the other hand, the third assistant director not only controls the background movement of a scene but also keeps the pace of the shooting time. In addition to this, the third assistant director directs the extras in a scene. As the right hand person of the first assistant director, he ensures that the cast is around for the next scene.

Working on the set of Guerrilla Boy taught me to relate the theories of filmmaking to the practical realities of the field. Due to the constructive criticism offered by the people I worked with, I strengthened my resolve to become a filmmaker.”

ALICE MOTIERI: “I worked on stills and downloaded, copied and digitalized videos from the Red One hard drive.

Working on the set of Guerrilla Boy taught me valuable lessons on sound recording and working with the mixer. I also learnt how to write continuity notes as well as how to relate with other members of cast and crew.

I got the chance to integrate film theories into a real film set, and realized that in filmmaking, passion and risk-taking are crucial.

Filmmaking is not all glamour, though. Working in Nderi came with its own set of peculiar challenges, the first of which was cold biting weather. Also, we had a few hiccups with the transportation from Nairobi to Nderi. Other problems arose in the form of misunderstandings with other crew as to job description and duties, as well as in the form of missing or misplaced equipment.

However, I made valuable networks during the twenty one days spent at the set and realized that, without a doubt, film is the career for me.”

WYCLIFF MBOYA: “On the set of Guerrilla Boy, I worked with different types of lights and dealt with the setting and the pushing of the dolly. I got the chance to hobnob with some of the who’s who of the film industry. I came to realize that there are lots of people involved in the making of a successful film. The director cannot do without the grips people. The actors and actresses cannot do without the film crew. Everyone is interdependent.

From working on the set of this film, I sobered up from my romanticized ideals of the film industry. I woke up to the realization that film is not just what they show you on television; lots of sweat, tears and blood go into each successful production.”

MY KIBERA- Josphat Keya’s story

When did you first realize you were a boy or girl? When did you first realize you were African or American or European? When did you first realize that you came from the wrong or right side of the tracks? What would have happened if you didn’t know? Did that information make you a better person? If you never focused on those things, would you have had an identity crisis? Would you have been less of a boy if you didn’t know you were a boy? Less of an African? Less poor?

Josphat Keya shares with us the story of growing up in Kibera, of being constantly reminded that he was poor.

“I was born on the 25th of August, 1986, at Pumwani Hospital in Nairobi. I grew up at the Kianda area in Kibera. When I was younger, I didn’t realize I was poor. I was comfortable and happy as long as I didn’t know. It was only when I started going to school that the social differences, the cracks in my childhood reverie emerged. I started to ask myself questions too complex for a child to answer.

Why were we poor? Why did we live in Kibera. Was my father lazy? Did he make wrong choices? Was he imprudent, careless with our lives?

I began to resent him, to resent the fact that we were poor and I was inferior to the richer children I went to school with. When my mother left for the village when I was eight, I resented my stepmother too. I hated my father for taking her word over mine all the time.

All the resentment I felt turned me into a bitter child. I was angry at the world. To hide the fact that I was hurting, I grew a tough exterior. I had no respect for my father or stepmother. I didn’t like to cut school, but I often ran away from home to stay with friends. I started serious drinking when I was twelve years old.

My relationship with my father further deteriorated when, after my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, I refused to go to Upperhill or Aquinas; the high schools I had been called to. In anger, my father told me to find a high school on my own and to educate myself. His relationship with my mother also suffered; he blamed her for my stubborn behaviour. She in turn blamed me.

With my grandfather’s help, I got into Eshinutsa Secondary School, a day school in Western Kenya. Those four years away from Kibera changed me. In order to make new friends, I had to get rid of my tough exterior. I became shy and quiet, accommodative, willing to learn from others. I also got to live with my mother in the village. I loved the simplicity and tranquillity of village life.

Some of the old bitterness returned when my school mates found out where I was from.

“You’re from that place with the flying toilets?” they asked.

I didn’t expect that the bad reputation of my home would be known to children in a remote village school. I was ashamed of Kibera, ashamed of myself for coming from there. I was ashamed of my entire background. From then, whenever people asked where I came from, I made up a fictional hometown.

Coming back to Kibera after high school, I found that whereas my age mates were doing things with their lives, I remained stagnant and confused.

With the promise of a teaching job, my stepmother got me in touch with a school owner from Ayani Estate in Kibera. The first day at the teaching job, I was shown into the kitchen and introduced to the househelps and janitors. I thought that everything was just an orientation process into the teaching job, even the fact that the janitors handed me brooms to clean and arrange the classes and the school owner made me sell vegetables in the market.

Perhaps I would never have seen the light had one of the househelps not approached me. He asked me to think deeply about my life’s purpose. He said that I was wasting my education and my life.

I got another job as a telephone attendant for a Simu Ya Jamii in Kibera. At the same time, I worked with school children, giving them remedial tuition.

It was around this time that the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education results were announced.  I had hit a snag in my life and was stuck inside a rut in which I cared less about anything. I wasn’t bothered about my performance in the exams, so even when it turned out that I was the second best student in my school, neither my father nor I were excited.

My friends asked me if I had dreams of going to university. I had no dreams. I didn’t even know what I wanted to make of myself. Due to pressure from his friends and mine, my father and I began to think of plans for my future.

I started going to church. I also took up a diploma in counselling psychology and went on to become a peer counsellor, taking part in programmes targeting schools. My life began to take direction. I spent weekends at church counselling, and the other days studying and getting a practical experience. Parents with broken relationships with their children, or whose children had other problems, would approach me for help. I had my own house in Kibera. It became a rehabilitation centre. Parents would send their children to live with me for a while. Lots of my friends reformed.

My father comes from a long line of electrical engineers. His clan believes in career inheritance, and the entire clan began to pressure me to do a course in electrical engineering. Mom on the other hand wanted me to become a teacher. Her entire family piled pressure on me to become a teacher. They even offered to take care of the fees.

My father began to drag me to his work place. I would do nothing there but read newspapers. Tired of that, I began to yearn for real duties. I went through my father’s architectural plans and began to understand them. I began going to the construction sites.

I gained a real interest in electrical engineering and even became better than some of father’s workers. I became a supervisor there and soon after, took up a course in electrical engineering. My father became proud of my achievements. He and I became very close.

I would say that I stumbled into the world of film. Togetherness Supreme was being shot in Kibera. I’d heard that they were looking for people to take part in that project, but was not really interested. When a friend made me accompany him to the set, I found the multiple takes dizzying and annoying. I was convinced that I would never be involved in film.

The friend that took me to the set of Togetherness Supreme brought me application forms for Kibera Film School. I wasn’t interested in the least bit, but my friend pushed me until I filled those in.

At the same time, my mother made me apply for a course at Kaimosi Teachers’ Training College. I had to make a difficult decision about what exactly to do with my life. To my father’s disappointment, I quit the course in electrical engineering and took up film. To my mother’s horror, I passed up the opportunity to join the teacher’s training college.

I took a leap of faith, unsure where that path would take me. My passion in filmmaking turned out to be a happy accident. I didn’t expect that film would take over my life like this.

Today, I proudly wear the tag ‘Produce of Kibera, this side up’. Look at me, I’m not a flying toilet; I’m a success story. I’m not a walking textbook illustration of poverty; I’m the embodiment of hope. The thing with hope, no one can reach the end of it. Did you ever meet anyone who ate up all the hope until they had nothing left to eat?

Sometimes it feels like this place is purposefully kept alive. See, in Kenya we have lions, we have snow at the equator, we even have the largest slum in Africa. Come, come pay us a lot of money for having these things.

See, we can’t get rid of Kibera. If we got rid of Kibera, what will your dollar bills have to pay for? What will your eyes have to see? How will you be thanked for helping us? How will you feel like you are better than us?

My Kibera is a place where, even if your anger and bitterness wouldn’t let you love your stepmother, you had a million other mothers offering you their love, opening up their simple homes to you. My Kibera is a place where no one will let your clothes get rained on out on the lines.

My Kibera is a place with the most hardworking people on earth. A woman will open shop at six in the morning, hawking milk. At ten, they cook mandazi for sale, then open the vegetable shop and sell potatoes and tomatoes until evening. At six, they take out the maize and roast it by the road side. It may be hard, but we have to struggle. Doesn’t everyone struggle in their own way?

Children here are afraid of dreaming because when morning comes, they will awake. My Kibera is a place where the onus is on us young people to hold each other’s hands so no one has to be afraid of dreaming.”

Josphat Keya is the Program Manager at Hot Sun Foundation, Kibera. He just received an eight-week film fellowship at Ghetto Film School in New York. For more information on how to help him raise money for his fellowship, email

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

Find us here:

Today, we went out to the field. The goal was to practice framing and cloning of subjects. We filmed the subjects in different shots doing different things, then edited these shots and brought them together into the same frame.

The effect of this was that multiple shots appeared in the same frame as one shot in which the same subject appeared while doing different things. This technique has been used in films to bring about the illusion of twins or triplets.

Foundation in filmmaking- Second intake 2011

Kibera Film School offers training in the following:

– Scriptwriting

– Camera

– Production

– Sound

– Editing

– Entrepreneurship

The duration of the course is 5 months full time. The fee structure shall be sent upon request. There is limited space, and some scholarships are available.
Kibera Film School is located at Hot Sun Foundation Training Center in Kibera, near Olympic Primary School.

Application forms may be picked, filled and returned at the Hot Sun Office, between the 20th of May and the 25th of June 2011.

For more information, please email:

Josephat Keya gets fellowship to New York’s Ghetto Film School

During today’s script writing class with Wanjiru Kairu, we had a discussion on our 5-minute script narrative projects.  In groups of four, we discussed character treatment and aspects of script writing.

Stephen Okoth’s Machozi ya Simba (tears of the lion) was approved for completion. We went on to design the DVD layer for the My World project.

Later on, it was announced that Josephat Keya had won a fellowship to the Ghetto Film School in New York. He departs in July and comes back in September. Congratulations to Josephat, we wish him all the best.

Shooting mental images

There was an article in the paper, about a Canadian film maker that lost his right eye as a teenager and now wants to insert a wireless video camera into his prosthetic eye.

No pun intended, but one sees where he’s coming from.

I mean, take a walk down the street and you’ll see dozens of things you wish you could capture with a lens and keep in your mind for posterity (I wonder if the wireless video camera in the Canadian man’s prosthetic eye specialises in mental images).

The other night, a scuffle broke out in the street, careening dangerously into a gory situation. A camera in the eye would have been able to capture the following:

–          The blurry motion of the spanner as the matatu driver rammed it over and over into the passenger’s skull

–          The tidemarks of anger stretched over the matatu driver’s face, like electricity cables beneath his skin

–          The spectators gathering around. These were divided into three:

  1. The people who hurled lustful eyes at the injured man’s back pocket where his wallet and cell phone were wedged
  2. The people that offered lots of useless sympathy and then melted into thin air when real help was needed
  3. The people that weren’t there but should have been there, like the cops and the man’s friends who wanted money sent to them first before they could move a muscle to their friend’s aid.

–          The montage of pain on the concrete as droplets of blood dribbled from the man’s jaws, bounced on the pavement and splattered across the dusty soles of shoes

–          A Nairobi street’s pre-sleeping routine: first it takes off its shoes, takes off its stifling clothes, chases the vehicles off its roads, washes itself in the muddy puddles, oils its concrete skin from the excrement of trucks and trailers, then snuggles next to the drunkards and the glue-sniffing homeless people.

–          Most importantly, the camera would have been able to capture the concern in Mercy Murugi’s face as she ran to the injured man, checked his legs for broken bones, dabbed his bleeding face with pocket tissues, took out her phone to call his relatives and rushed him to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

–          The camera might have been able to catch the irony when, the next day, the injured man called Mercy Murugi to ask her if she had stolen his cell phone!




Mtaani mentality

Sometimes the kids in Kibera sound like a broken record.

“How are you? How are you? How are you?” they sing, following us through Kibera streets, waving their tiny hands.

The stock phrase is directed at Matt Wilder or Karolin Siebert. So too are the adoring eyes, their toothless smiles. Even kids that ordinarily can’t speak can string enough words to say ‘awayu’.

One wonders who ingrains this in them. I mean, these kids can’t tell the difference between red and blue. How then do they tell the difference between black and white?

Today, Matt couldn’t join us on location for a shoot; he had to direct it via phone. The last time we went on location with him, he was forced to part with cash hand outs for the onlookers. Today, the onlookers met us a long way from the shoot location.

Ako wapi huyo mzungu?” they asked, wanting to know where Matt was. They wanted more cash handouts from him.

Matt didn’t join us. The shoot went really well. Everything went according to plan. In fact, we shot in record time (could be that Matt is a time waster).

Usually when Matt joins us, throngs of people tag after the film crew. Sounds of ‘awayu’ follow us for miles. Onlookers demand to be paid for looking. Today, there was little interference from the onlookers. In the absence of a mzungu, there were less than five onlookers. 

Evans, a member of crew, calls this the Mtaani Mentality. The strange thing is that in the absence of a white person –a mzungu– the Mtaani Mentality is reversed, targeted against fellow Kenyans.

For example, today I asked a street vendor in Kibera how much a packet of groundnuts cost.

“Ten shillings,” the vendor said.

The women that sat with the vendor nudged her, admonished her for not taking advantage of me. In mother tongue, they told the woman to sell the groundnuts to me for five times their worth.

Well, these are just some occupational hazards of being in a film crew. People see the expensive equipment and want to exploit you.


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




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

Stephen Okoth preparing the land ready to plant the flowers during the  general cleaning day at the school.

 Jefferson Oroka, electrician checking the meter box during the general cleaning day at the school

Moses Ouma and Berry Muga both students of Kibera film school carrying garbbage.   

Josephat Keya the project  manager arranging the flower pots inorder. He also urged the students to always keep the school and its environs clean adding that cleanliness is always secondliness to God.