Dr. Ezekiel Mutua, the self appointed Kenya’s moral police, has take over the functions of Kenya Film Commission. If not checked, we will soon find ourselves in a situation where Kenya Film Commission is a redundant body as Kenya Film Classification Board takes over all the functions of KFC. To understand why, let us start from the functions of the two organizations.
Right from its website, KFCB clarifies that The Kenya Film Classification Board is a State Corporation established under the Films and Stage Plays Act Cap 222 of the Laws of Kenya to regulate the creation, broadcasting, possession, distribution and exhibition of film and broadcast content with the aim of promoting culture, National values and aspirations as well as protecting children against exposure to harmful content.
It should be clear from the onset, that it is not the function of KFCB to perform duties aimed at promoting film creation or promoting Kenya as a conducive destination for filming. Though important, those functions are meant to be done by the Kenya Film Commission.
It is clearly explained at Kenya Film Commission’s website that the mandate of Kenya Film Commission as a State Corporation under the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology is to develop, promote and market the film industry locally and internationally and identify and facilitate growth of the film industry. That is, any other body performing the functions of promoting filming in Kenya must derive that mandate from KFC.
But that’s not what’s on the ground. On the ground we have Dr. Ezekiel Mutua taking over the duties of promoting filming in Kenya through several avenues. First, KFCB took over the former Nairobi Cinema by renovating it, and making it a place where it can hosts film events mainly targeting local content. The other project meant for promoting filming and consumption of film content in Kenya is what KFCB dubs Sinema Mashinani.
Sinema Mashinani is a project aimed at taking filming and exhibition of films back to the village. “Sinema Mashinani will broadcast free films to the public, using a model similar to that of the 19702 and 1980s” where films are broadcast in open air markets and as roadshows. Reported Daily Nation.
Lastly, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua has been the one attending all the International Film festivals starting from the Cannes International Film Festival where he led delegates from Kenya to the Festival, to leading another delegation to the Hollywood Film Festival 2019 ” The KFCB CEO Dr. Ezekiel Mutua in Beverly Hills to attend Hollywood Film Festival 2019 to push for partnerships that will tell the Kenyan and African stories through film. The Board’s Sinema Mashinani and Film Dialogues have finally found a platform in Hollywood that will open up co-production opportunities in film”, KFCB reported via their Facebook Page.
The endeavors by KFCB to promote Kenya’s film industry are well intentioned, but as a filmmaker and Director I do not want them to be the one in charge of promoting filming in Kenya. I do not want a body whose philosophy is to regulate the type of content being produced be the very body traveling across the globe looking for partnerships that can help Kenya become a country known of her films. This is because, as a regulatory body, the innate drive by those at the helm of the body is to stifle creativity – and this is so obvious from the Dr. Ezekiel’s Mutua campaign for clean content.
In the last several weeks, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua has toured almost all major TV and Radio stations with the aim of talking about clean content. Being a person of Christian background, a person who identifies himself as a saved Christian, Dr. Mutua has used his position at KFCB, not just to regulate content by classifying them, but by imposing bans on the types of content that can be distributed. He has even worked with distribution platforms that don’t care so much about Ezekiel’s clean content philosophy, to have them remove some Kenyan content uploaded on YouTube. Now, an organization hell-bent to stifle creativity cannot be trusted to effectively promote a section of the creative industry.
What I don’t understand is why the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology allowed one State Corporation under its docket take over the functions of another State Corporation, still under its docket. It is not the work of Ezekiel Mutua to travel to film festivals looking for partnerships that can help local filmmakers, but it would the function of the chairperson of Kenya Film Commission to do just that. It is the function of Kenya Film Commission to be in charge of Exhibition centres like Nairobi Cinema, and it is still the function of Kenya Film Commission to conduct exhibitions such as Sinema Mashinani. This is because the sole function of KFCB is to give licenses, permits, and to ensure produced films abide by the laws and regulations of Kenya.
Those who established KFCB and KFC separately were not some mad men who knew that regulation and promotion cannot be done by the same body. Kenya Film Commission must therefore rise up and take back its functions from the self proclaimed Kenya’s moral police. We cannot have a body that works hard to remove creativity from film be the same body tasked with promoting creativity. If KFC doesn’t rise up right now then it won’t be long before it is rendered rendant, just as the Department of Film Services was rendered redundant immediately its function of licensing films was taken away from it and given to KFCB. By the way, going by the remaining functions of DFS, DFS should now be re-established as branches of Kenya Film Commission in the counties.