Kenyans Proud of Nowhere in Africa's Oscar Nod
25 Mar 2003, 17:09 UTC
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
are both hoping to benefit from the publicity surrounding the
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
"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
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.
The couple finds the
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
of the daughter, Stephanie Zweig.
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
, safer, and more technologically-advanced.
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
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
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,
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
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
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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