It was a case in point perhaps took a while to bubble over – but not to those it directly affected: the difficulties that creatives in the film and content creation industries in Kenya have to go through to get their work seen, as well the huge expenses involved in just getting started
The proposed Film and Stage Plays Act – also referred to as CAP 222 was in many eyes authoritarian and a massive barrier to entry, especially for budding filmmakers, actors and producers.
You can view it in its entirety here:
Some of the points of contention included the mandate of the KFCB in the classification of both broadcast as well as online content and the subsequent punitive measures spelled out if content was in contravention of the proposed law. Just how would this have stifled an industry already suffocating?
You can't regulate creativity or how and who decides to tell a story. You cannot police expression. #StopTheFilmBill
— Ramapithecus (@RamzZy_) October 10, 2016
The proposed law spelled out highly regulated terms for the actual making of films – including applications for filming certificates that would have to include all content (scripts) within their descriptions – any alterations would have to be approved.
Also notable were elements of the proposed law that incorporated police presence at the filming of certain films should the license warrant it; again spelling out punitive consequences (fines of not less than 5 million and prison terms not exceeding four years or both).
— Mwende Ngao (@mwendesusu) October 10, 2016
The proposed law touched on powers to prohibit the importation, sale or circulation of what it considered to be ‘objectionable’ material.
Although online activism created a surge in conversation, players behind the scenes have been agitating for its complete revision; its tenets not conducive to growth in Kenya’s film industry.
The government has long touted its horn as a supporter of young talent especially within the creative space – however a proposal such as this is working in direct opposition to what it says are its own values.
In response to the massive outcry generated, the Kenya Film Classification Board following a recent meeting with stakeholders has said that it will continue to engage to bring it more in line with current trends, philosophies and developments.