New African Film Makers: Wanuri Kahiu

Yesterday I skyped with Wanuri Kahiu, a Kenyan filmmaker. The audiofile is here. In our interview we spoke about the self-conception of African fim makers, why it is necessary to have alternatives to Nollywood, we spoke about the art of film making, why the arts are so important in Africa and what their impact is on society. Further more we were thinking about why the arts have been completely banned from the African school curriculum – a sad story …

Kahiu was born in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating from the University of Warwick in 2001 with a BSc degree in Management Science, she enrolled for a Master’s Degree at the ‘Masters of Fine Arts’ programme in directing at the School of Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her movie “From a Whisper” received a total of twelve nominations and earned five awards at the 5th African Movie Academy Awards in 2009. Her latest film “Pumzi” is a science fiction short film. It was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of its New African Cinema program. The project was funded with grants from the Changamoto arts fund, as well as from the Goethe Institut and Focus Features’ Africa First short film program which are also to distribute the work. Kaihu hopes to expand the short into a full-length feature. It also won several awards, including Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009.

The Origins of the Future

Last week I attended “Ciudad de las Ideas” in Puebla, 60 miles south east of Mexico City. Wonderful town, beautiful landscape …

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Venue: Complejo Cultural Universitario

Andres Roemer, President and curator of the festical, brought a stellar line-up of speakers on stage – many of them well known TEDsters. I enjoyed Chris Anderson, Hans Rosling, Michio Kaku (“After this introduction I can’t wait to hear myself speaking …”) and Henry Markram the most.

The entire set-up, the format of the talks, the “celebraties” was very TED-like – but not a bad copy at all! Ciudad de las ideas focuses on the same ideas as TED – but they distinguish themselves by including the youth and keeping the prices affordable (about 1200 Euro for 3 days, best category and 500 Euros for the way-up balcony seats)! It was very good to see so many students around! Made it very lively and refreshing!

Most of the participants came from Mexico, only a few Americans and hardly any Europeans.

My major takeaway from the festival – besides great conversations and the excellent food in Puebla – was the staturday morning debate on “Religion and God” – not because of the topic but the way it was presented. Very vital and agile format (in short: 3 vs. 3, giving statement first and then in a second round argueing against each other … then commented by a “neutral” person) … I really hope they will upload the video soon.

The Element – Interview with Sir Ken Robinson

The element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. It celebrates the diversity of intelligence, the power of imagination and creativity, and the importance of commitment to our own capabilities. In a humorous way  Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the element and those that stifle that possibility. He shows that age and occupation are no barrier, and that once we have found our path we can help others to do so as well. The Element shows the vital need to enhance creativity and innovation by thinking differently about human resources and imagination. It is also an essential strategy for transforming education, business, and communities to meet the challenges of living and succeeding in the twenty-first century.

I’ve had the chance to talk to Sir Ken at the The Aspen Ideas Festival. Here are the “snippets” packed in a youtube player:

Some Snippets – As an Intro
Get it! Love it! Do it! Find it! (1 of 5)
What is SKR’s Element? (2 of 5)
What “teaching” is all about (3 of 5)
Education is a personal process (4 of 5)
Example of a “good” school (5 of 5)

Here is the entire interview.

My personal take away from this interview is: I am in my element;-)

We need Shakespeare and Einstein!

Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. It’s a message with deep resonance.

Just watch this speech he gave 2006 at TED. Monterey.