Over the last two years, the way that we have all experienced cinema has evolved. Whether we watch in a physical setting with others, or alone at home, our love of film is the one constant.
With this in mind, with of the support the British Council, award winning film exhibition company We Are Parable have collaborated with Kenya’s Manyatta Screenings to produce “Love Letters To Cinema”, an innovative, month long hybrid event taking place this July in Kenya and the UK, designed to bring together films from both regions via film screenings and exhibitions, which will take place in London and Bristol, as well as Nairobi and Laikipia in Kenya.
We Are Parable and Manyatta Screenings, along with filmmaker Wanjeri Gakuru, have collaboratively curated a series of short films that establish a conversation between Britain, Kenya and the wider East African region, identifying similarities and differences amongst stories, and allowing for a genuine cultural exchange to take place between the organisations, the countries and the filmmakers.
“We see this first Love Letters to Cinema event as the start of an opportunity to build new, and engage existing audiences in the UK and Kenya” says Carmen Thompson, We Are Parable
Programmer and Cultural Curator. “It has been an amazing process building this programme together. The result is a true testament to the incredible filmmaking talent present in both regions, we can not wait for audiences to experience it.”
The inaugural “Love Letters” will feature seven films: A Birthday Party (Victoria Thomas, UK, 2021);
Appreciation (Tomisin Adepeju, UK, 2018); Bukikakkono (Facing North) (Tukei Peter Muhumuza,
Uganda, 2018); I Had To Bury Cucu (Philippa Ndisi-Herrmann, Kenya, 2018); Lock Off (Akwasi Poku, UK, 2021); Love & Brain (Semagngeta Aychiluhem, Ethiopia, 2020); and Tithes & Offerings (Tony Koros, Kenya, 2018).
In-person film screenings and exhibitions will take place at Unseen Nairobi from 1-3 July, Tafaria Castle near Kenya’s Laikipia County from 8-10 July, at London’s Rich Mix from 16-18 July, and finally in Bristol from 22 July. The exhibitions will showcase key elements from each film, from shot lists and scripts to props and storyboards, creating a unique experience for global audiences. All films will then be available to watch online worldwide via We Are Parable’s bespoke VOD platform from 25-31 July.
“It’s our hope that, with these films and the accompanying exhibitions, we’re able to reach as many people as possible, which is why we’ve chosen to host in-person events outside of London and Nairobi, “ says Teanne Andrews, We Are Parable co-founder. “A lot of cultural activity unfortunately only focuses on capital cities, but our approach recognises the need for the work of these incredible artists to travel.”
“Love Letters” will also feature podcasts with filmmakers from the programme enabling audiences to get a rare insight into the creative minds behind the work. They will talk through their creative process and explore the themes in their films with high-profile hosts from the industry including Ekwa Msangi, Joel Tugaineyo, Kevin Mwachiro, Liz Chege, Nadia Denton and Sam Tebandeke. Audiences will be able to access these interviews at both the exhibitions or online.
“We are extremely excited to see the development of this project, which was one of the sixty-eight projects selected under the Cultural Exchange open call in 2021, and speaks to the main objective of the open call – to explore the opportunities that exist to learn and develop work between partners in the United Kingdom and Sub-Saharan Africa for showcasing in both these regions. The screenings planned and the accompanying exhibitions will go a long way in not only showcasing the talent that exists between creatives in Kenya and the Britain, but will promote dialogue to further cultural relations and understanding of different narratives and artistic approaches in the two countries” – Melody Sango, Programme Manager, Culture Connects, Bristol Council.
The “Love Letters” Kenya team comprises of Manyatta Screenings and filmmaker Wanjeri Gakuru, and the project represents the first time that We Are Parable and Manyatta have worked together. “We are over the moon to have a partner who shares the passion of celebrating and championing the emerging voices in African cinema and its diaspora.” say Manyatta co-founders Fibby Kioria & Hawa Essuman.
Manyatta Screenings have established themselves as a leading platform for showcasing short films from Eastern Africa, whilst We Are Parable provide opportunities to experience and respond to Black Cinema in culturally relevant and unique ways. This inaugural event marks the first of what is hoped to be an annual international celebration of storytelling excellence by filmmakers from Africa and the diaspora.
“Love Letters To Cinema” is funded by the British Council and is made possible due to the generous support of venue partners Unseen Nairobi, Tafaria Castle & Center for the Arts and Rich Mix.
Find out more about the 2022 programme at: loveletterstocinema.com