Wildlife Direct Commissions Six Local Filmmakers for the “Justice for Nature” Film Initiative

Judy Ndunge Kenya May 22, 2024

WildlifeDirect, a Kenyan-based conservation organization, announced the commission of six groundbreaking short films dedicated to advocating for justice for nature. This initiative, funded by the Whitley Fund For Nature followed a successful pitch competition that drew 50 compelling proposals, of which 45 were pitched in person at the WildlifeDirect offices and the rest virtually.

According to the press release on May 22nd,2024 in Nairobi Kenya ,the competition attracted an array of ideas with topics ranging from deforestation and human-wildlife conflict to marine protection, pollution, poaching, animal welfare, and climate change.

The panel of judges included award-winning novelist Yvonne Owuor Adhiambo, Film industry experts Nimo Mathenge (Walt Disney, OWN), Pauline Njau (UNIHCR award-winning filmmaker, and Dr.Paula Kahumbu. The winners were selected unanimously.

Selected winners demonstrated an understanding of the issues, capability, and compelling ideas for bringing the stories to life through film. They included two students who are currently pursuing a Masters degree in wildlife filmmaking at the University of West England, seasoned drama filmmakers Musyoki Kivindyo, Dancurf Brown (Villains of the Metropolis on Netflix), and animator Albert Nyakundi. Newcomers to the film include documentary filmmaking, including Lornah Sharon Wambui and Kiki Cheptoo Ng’ok.

The production kick-off was held from 2nd to 4th May 2024. It included comprehensive training for the teams in story development, logistics in film production, film contracts, legal and environmental legislation, taxes, film insurance, and financial management. This preparatory phase facilitated a vibrant exchange of ideas, fostering a supportive community among participants. Each team has been awarded KES 500,000 to produce their film.

Speaking for them all, Nyakundi, inspired by the collaborative atmosphere, asserted, “We are not just going to meet your expectations, Paula; we’re going to go way above it”.

The actual value of these films extends far beyond the screen as the transformative experience of the filmmakers involved catalyzes a broader explosion of content creation. Through their participation, these storytellers become crucial voices for African nature, the environment, climate change, and heritage.

The six films will be shot in locations around Kenya and beyond aiming to craft compelling narratives that resonate deeply with African audiences.

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