Sports, Culture and the Arts

Board outlaws importation of foreign films to protect local artists

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Unlicenced foreign films will no longer be allowed into the country following a decision by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) to check the proliferation of unregistered foreign films in the Kenyan market.
Speaking during the 2017 Riverwood Academy Awards held at the Kenya National Theatre Saturday, KFCB Chief Executive Officer Dr Ezekiel Mutua said the move is aimed at shielding local film creators from unfair competition from foreign dealers, and to curb piracy. “We will ensure that foreign films are not allowed into the country unless they are properly cleared,” he said, adding that the Board will work the customs authorities to ensure all foreign films intended for the Kenyan market comply with the law.
In the past few years, the Board has made sustained efforts to smoothen operations in the creative industry. These include the ongoing process of reviewing the Films and Stage Plays Act, Cap222 to make the country’s regulatory regime facilitative rather than prohibitive. The aim of reviewing the law is to align it to the Constitution, accommodate new content distribution technologies, and to harmonise the licensing regime in the industry.
Among the issues that have so far been identified by players as clogging growth in the industry have to do with multiple licences issued by County Governments, in addition to the KFCB filming licence. Last week, the Board announced that film makers should not pay for another filming licence after obtaining a filming licence from KFCB. The CEO clarified that film licensing is a national function, asking the County Governments to cease overburdening film makers with multiple licences.
During the 2017 Riverwood Academy Awards, Dr. Mutua assured film makers that the Board will continue working closely with the industry in implementing initiatives that will enhance the performance of the creative industry.
“In these efforts, our aim is to facilitate growth in the film industry in order to raise the standard of the local industry to compete in the same league with Hollywood of the United States, Bollywood of India, or Nollywood of Nigeria”.
The CEO urged broadcasters to support local artists by airing local content, encouraging them to strive to comply with the 40-60 percent local content threshold required by the Programming Code for Free to Air Radio and Television Services in Kenya.
“It is a shame that our Television stations are airing Naija movies all day. You will hardly find a Kenyan film airing in Nigeria,” he said, adding that there should be a reciprocal arrangement to ensure local films are aired abroad.
This year, the Board raised its sponsorship of Riverwood Academy Awards from Sh. 1 million last year to Sh. 2.5 million. “Our continued support of these awards is testament to our commitment to promote growth in the film industry, to create jobs and contribute to the country’s GDP,” said Dr Mutua.

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