University of Nairobi Final Year Journalism Students’ Inaugural Film Festival.

February 15, 2024:  The University of Nairobi's Department of Journalism hosted its first-ever Film Festival on Wednesday, February 15, 2024, showcasing the exceptional work of their final year students. The event whose theme was "Documentary Storytelling as a Catalyst for Social Transformation," saw over 25 documentaries tackling diverse social issues and human narratives come to life in the Chandaria Auditorium, UON Towers.

Mahak Dagar, the class representative, in her opening remarks highlighted the dedication and perseverance poured into each production. "This Film Festival is not just an event," she declared, "it's a testament to our passion, determination, and perseverance as final-year students. Each story reflects our artistic spirit and creativity."

The event was graced by representatives of the University's management, faculty, and distinguished guests. Veteran journalist Alex Chamwada, a Department of Journalism alumnus, offered insightful advice, urging students to utilize readily available resources and build strong networks. He emphasized this message through a showreel of his early work, inspiring resilience and commitment.

Salim Amin, son of legendary photojournalist Mohammed Amin, commended the students' work and reiterated the importance of compelling content. He encouraged "peer review" as a crucial step before showcasing documentaries to the world. In attendance were students and lecturers from other institutions of Higher learning among them being Multimedia University, St. Pauls University, Technical University of Kenya, Zetech University and Talanta Institute. Mr. Roy Khaemba, chair of the Department of Journalism Zetech University commended the exemplary work showcased by the students from the University of Nairobi.

The festival's heart belonged to the student filmmakers and their diverse documentaries. "TSISIKA," by Hope Nabalayo, explored the transformative power of a mother's love amidst societal misunderstanding. Davis Mwangi's "Vanishing Waters" investigated the shrinking Lake Olbollosat, raising environmental concerns. Ngina Mualuko's "Utamaduni Wetu: The Benga Tune Sway" delved into the rich history of Benga music, while Mahak Dagar's "Hidden in Plain Sight: Endometriosis" brought awareness to a condition affecting countless women.

Kairu Karega's "MASHUJAA: A Story of Hope and Recovery in Githogoro Slums" documented a program supporting alcoholics, offering a beacon of hope. Edd Takka's "The Thorn in My Side," was a unique showcase - a radio documentary that explored the intersection of mental health, Christianity, and therapy, promoting a balanced approach to well-being.

Mr. Fredrick Ogutu, the project coordinator and supervisor, expressed his gratitude to all who supported the filmmakers and said the project was a culmination of the four years by the students. The University's management represented by Mr. John Orindi, Director of Corporate Affairs, commended the students’ and pledged continued support for such initiatives. Dr. George Gathigi, representing the Chair of the Department, acknowledged the event's significance and encouraged future cohorts to build upon this success.

Mr Muriithi, a lecturer, commended the authenticity of the stories told during the event, recognizing the power of genuine narratives in connecting with audiences and driving social transformation. He underscored the significance of simplicity in storytelling, emphasizing that clear and relatable narratives are essential components of effective communication and impact.’

Lastly, Mr Fred Ogutu reiterated Mr Muriithi's sentiment by encouraging student producers to draw inspiration from their countryside when crafting stories and emphasized that local narratives underscore the richness of storytelling rooted in one's culture, community, and personal experiences. By tapping into their backgrounds and surroundings, student producers harness the power of authenticity to create compelling narratives that resonate deeply with their audience.

The inaugural Film Festival marked a significant milestone for the Department of Journalism, showcasing the power of documentary storytelling to inform, engage, and inspire positive change. With its impressive debut and exceptional talent on display, the festival has set a high bar for future generations of student filmmakers, raising anticipation for the stories they will tell and the impact they will create.