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Kenyans Proud of Nowhere in Africa's Oscar Nod
25 Mar 2003, 17:09 UTC
are delighted that a film shot in Kenya, won the Academy Award
for Best Foreign Film at this year's ceremony Sunday in Los
Angeles. Although the movie was produced by a German company,
Kenya's film and tourism industries are both hoping to benefit
from the publicity surrounding the award.
Jenny Pont, the head of the Kenyan production unit for the
Oscar-winning film Nowhere In Africa, says she hopes the Academy
Award will boost the fortunes of Kenya's struggling film industry.
"I am really proud but I am also proud of my team as it
was a real team effort," she said. "And I am just
thrilled for Kenya because we need this for our fledging film
industry, we need the publicity, and also for tourism. I think
this movie will definitely bring benefits to Kenya."
Nowhere in Africa tells the story of a Jewish family that flees
Nazi Germany in the 1930s to live on a remote farm in Kenya.
Nowhere in Africa Juliane Kohler and Merab Ninidze as Jettel
and Walter Redlich -->
The couple finds the transition challenging, putting their relationship
under serious strain. But, their young daughter, settles in
well, making friends with the family's Kenyan cook, Owuor. The
film is based on the autobiography of the daughter, Stephanie
The makers of Nowhere in Africa say they had to fight to film
in Kenya. They were under pressure from cautious investors to
shoot in South Africa, which they saw as less corrupt, safer,
and more technologically-advanced.
Nowhere in Africa Lea Kurka as Regina and Sidede Onyulo as Owuor
Ms. Pont says she hopes the success of Nowhere in Africa will
improve the image of Kenya overseas, and make it easier for
other filmmakers to come here.
"I think one of our main drawbacks here is the media giving
the wrong impression of Kenya and I am afraid to say your State
Department advising people not to come here," she said.
"This makes it very difficult to film for film productions
to get insurance to bring crews here and they cannot get the
insurance, so they do not come, they go to South Africa."
In recent years, several Kenyan stories, like I Dreamed of
Africa and Ghosts and the Darkness, were filmed in South Africa.
Most flopped at the box office amid criticism that they lacked
authenticity for, among other things, substituting South African
Zulu actors for Kenyan Maasai tribespeople.
Industry players hope the success of Nowhere in Africa at the
Oscars will have the same kind of impact that Out of Africa
did when it won the award for Best Picture in 1985, encouraging
foreign filmmakers and tourists to flock to Kenya.
Kenya's economically vital tourism industry is experiencing
a slump following U.S. and British government warnings earlier
this month that the country could be targeted by terrorists
again. The U.S. embassy in Nairobi was bombed in 1998, killing
more than 200 people, and late last year an Israeli-owned hotel
in the coastal town of Mombassa was bombed, killing 15 people.
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