The French Cultural Centre of the Alliance Francaise in Kenya

The Alliance Francaise in Kenya has, since the establishment of the French Cultural Centre (FCC) in 1975, been supporting cinema, known as the ‘seventh art’. It has done this consistently through screenings/festivals/discussions/workshops/professional trainings and invitations to major Festivals (FESPCO, Cannes) – all aimed at developing, promoting, and structuring the Kenyan and regional film sectors.  With the arrival of a Regional Audiovisual Attaché/Head of Film and Media at the French Embassy starting in   early 2000, French support for the Kenyan and regional film industries has intensified and resulted in the professionalization of many areas of the industry including policy development/production and promotion of local content, skills training, film labs, networking, etc.

The Wangari Maathai auditorium remains a popular and steady venue for film screenings.   A weekly CinemAlliance programme offers a diversity of French, Francophone, Kenyan and African films.  It also hosts film screenings and festivals organized by third party associations and institutions.

The auditorium has been the birthplace of many festivals.  Over the years, it has hosted or organized:

The European Film Festival (1992 to 2017) – the longest running Festival in Kenya – which moved to other venues in 2018/2019 coordinated directly by the European Union delegation, and then COVID hit, and the Festival is still to see the light of day again.
French Film Festival
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The Why Film Festival
Brazilian Film Festival
Korean Film Festival
Latin-American Film Festival
Israeli Film Festival
Palestinian Film Festival
Asean Film Festival
Dunia Moja Human Rights Festival
FilmAid Festival
Riverwood Film Awards
Slum Film Festival
Smartphone Film Competition
Kenya International Film Festival
African Ciné-Week
Kenyan Cinematographic Week

Included is a brief background to Kenyan film weeks/festivals:

The first Kenya Cinematographic Week took place at the FCC in 1998 in collaboration with the Kenya National Film Association.  The FCC provided the venue as well as logistical and financial support.  The organizing committee members included: Albert Wandago, Wanjiru Kinyajui, Mukami Njiru, Mary Otuka, Iyadi Nyongesa, Jane Murago Munene and Maurice Murimi – now considered to be veterans of the film industry (many trained at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communications).

The second Kenya Cinematographic Week in 1999 brought together additional partners besides the Kenya National Film Association including Kenya Film Producers’ Association, KIMC, National Museums of Kenya, Mohammed Amin Foundation, Marketing Society of Kenya and KTN.

In 2000, the focus became regional, and the name changed to the ‘African Cine-Week’, expanding participation to film makers from the East, Central and South African regions.  This annual event continued until 2005.

These Audiovisual Weeks, including screenings, discussions and workshops, were organized as a prelude to the European Film Festival which had been running at the FCC since 1992.

In 2006, the Audiovisual Weeks morphed into the Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF), organized by the Kenya International Film Festival Trust, led by Charles Asiba (formerly of URTNA) Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa.  KIFF was last held in the FCC in 2012.

With changing technology from 35mm projector to video cassettes, to DVDs and Blue Rays, to streaming and the digital cinema packages; the Wangari Maathai auditorium now boasts a 4th generation laser projector – the only one of its kind in the country.

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