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A Snapshot of the NBO Film Festival 2019

Kids Follow Proceedings at NBO Film Festival

The NBO Film Festival 2019, the third edition, ran in venues around Nairobi, Kenya from June 6-16, 2019.

The NBO Film Festival first showed up in the minds of creative entrepreneur Sheba Hirst and filmmaker (and first bodi in probably Kenya’s first viral sensation) Mbithi Masya. The idea was to revitalise cinema-going culture in Nairobi thus contributing to the growth of a healthy film industry in Kenya. In 2017, the new initiative kicked off with several movies being screened in the green city in the sun. In the following year, audience numbers went up significantly proving there was a market for this sort of thing in the East African country’s capital city.

The third edition of the NBO Film Festival kicked off on June 6 with a screening of Mugambi Nthiga directorial debut Lusala. The evening which was very colourful was followed by nine days of cinematic enjoyment for hundreds of Nairobians who milled around festival venues.

The films

The films, screened principally at the Prestige Cinema, came from across the world with the main focus being those that came from the African continent with several entries from South America making a showing.

There were nearly a dozen short films screened in the Docubox “Shorts, Shorts, and Shots” on the evening of June 7. Other short films that showed were Philippa Ndisi-Hermann’s I Had To Bury Cucu, Idil Ibrahim’s Sega, Peter Muhumuza’s Facing North, Chelsea Odufu’s Ori Inu, Tom Whitworth’s Poacher, Daniel Muchina’s Monsoons Over The Moon, and Nick Wambugu’s Demla.

The feature films on offer were Simon Rouby’s Adama, Thomas Brickhill’s Cook Off, Sippy Chadha’s Subira, Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund’s City of God, Peter Sedufia’s Keteke, Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada’s Miriam Miente (Miriam Lies), Suhaib Gasmelbari’s Talking About Trees, Iciar Bollian’s Yuli, Jerome Pikwane’s The Tokoloshe, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Sew The Winter To My Skin, Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp’s Liyana, Hajooj Kuka’s Akasha, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, Joël Karekezi’s Mercy of the Jungle, Arturo Infante’s The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia, Michael Mathews’ Five Fingers for Marseilles, and Blitz Bazawule’s The Burial of Kojo.

On the evening of June 13, audiences got to see and engage with the cast and crew of the Wanuri Kahiu directed Rafiki which is currently banned in the country.

Nairobi kids also got to watch Supa Modo in spaces like Kibera Mpira Mtaani Hall and KAG Olympic Educational Center, Kibera.

Other activities

Film festivals aren’t just about screening movies as there are several other aspects to this very big industry. This year, the NBO Film Festival 2019 included a conference on distribution brought by Film Africa with experts opining on the distribution of films for TV and cinema.


In a panel moderated by Don Edkins, panellists Ginger Wilson, Linda Githige, Trushna Buddhev Patel, Sarah Summers, Betty Sulty-Johnson, and Edima Otuokon gave their opinions on “Distribution Channels and their Role in the Digital Age”.

In another panel or Fireside Chat dubbed “Distribution Contracts – Do’s and Don’ts,” Sarika Hemi Lakhani and Philipp Hoffmann spoke about how to negotiate a contract, as well as its challenges, pitfalls and possibilities.

In the session “Community Building,” Sarah Summers and Kelly-Eve Koopman spoke about how to generate, maintain and grow your audience on social media, how to build an interactive relationship with your audience, how to brand yourself and heighten your exposure with limited resources.

Lectures/ Short presentations

There were several lectures/ short presentations given over the two day period of that section of the festival like Philipp Hoffmann’s two lectures “How to Find a Sales Agent” and “The Importance of a Festival Strategy.” Manuel Badel gave one on “Blockchain for the Film Industry” while Jana Wolff made two on “Access to Film Markets” and on the Berlinale Africa Hub. Edima Otuokon gave a session on The African Market – Facts and Figures.

Film Pitches

There was a film pitch competition where film makers presented their ideas to a panel.

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