westgateThe Kenyan film industry has suffered yet another blow after losing the battle to shoot a movie on the 2013 Westgate siege to South Africa.
The highly anticipated film is the second that the country has lost. ‘Africa,’ a movie based on the life of Richard Leakey, starring Brad Pitt and directed by his wife Angelina Jolie, is to be shot in South Africa. This is despite assurances by Culture and Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario that it will be done in Kenya.
So, why exactly is Kenya losing a story that gripped the country to its core to South Africa?
According to Richard Harding, producer of The First Grader, the widely acclaimed movie based on Kimani Maruge, Kenya is not exploiting its competitive location to make films.
“A Westgate movie is to be shot in South Africa in the next few months. Isn’t it sad?” He was quoted by Nairobi News.
“Kenya is a beautiful country with a lovely pool of talent. Unfortunately, it is the only country without incentives or rebates to attract filmmakers. That is why many movies about Kenya are made in South Africa,” said Harding.
He explained exactly how South Africa is able to attract filmmakers despite the Kenyan government being lenient with licences.
“The government is lenient with licences but the incentives are not there. For example, for $10 million spent making a movie, the South African Government gives back $2 million.”
Besides the Kenyan Government, the producer says there is little interest in developing and investing in the industry.
“When we made First Grader, we lost money. We didn’t get all the cash we needed to make the film because we chose to shoot in Kenya. I spoke to many millionaires in the country asking them to invest in the movie and they said ‘No’. Most said they’d rather invest in other things like real estate,” he said.
“I was paid nothing. Very few people will be willing to make that kind of sacrifice. It is important that adjustments be made to attract filmmakers,” he added.