What is a Kalasha?

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C/O KenyanVibe

Hola, how ahh ya?

The Kalasha Awards 2019 Nominees were unveiled a couple of days ago and this morning I woke up prepared to check out all their work and also do a small piece on how the Kalashas can improve from what I witnessed last year.

Heeh… ole wangu!

When I logged on to the Kalasha website, I was redirected to a voting ‘portal’ on the Startimes website that required me to download their streaming app. I didn’t think anything of it, since the kabanner read “Watch and Vote”.

Mimi huyo, download apk? Why not.

At that point I realized it was an android APK, so I moved to my living room and downloaded the app on my TV. It didn’t work.
So I decide to just do it on my phone instead.

After getting the app and setting up my station, I tried playing the first movie. Trailer.

The second one. Trailer.

Third. Trailer.

That’s when I noticed this app has some “premium” option. I called myself for a kameeting and came to the conclusion, that maybe you only have access to the full films if you pay for the package. So, I paid.

Granted it was only 75 bob (for some package that is supposedly 500 bob on a normal day, but… promooo), but that plus the paybill charges is enough to get me at least 5 packets of corn puffs. And you don’t mess with my corn puffs. Okay?

I settled back down and then, the earlier process was on repeat.

That’s when I realized, they actually don’t have most of the films on this app.

So, what exactly are people voting for?

Before we talk about that, I attended Kalasha Awards last year and to be honest I was not impressed in the least. I intended to write about the ceremony and how they could improve but life happened and I didn’t.

After their announcement of the nominees and all that followed, I felt like I should actually do that post and so here we go.

Hosts

The 2018 Kalasha Awards were hosted by Jeff Koinange and Amina Abdi. On Paper they both sound great but they really didn’t do it for me. They are both very chill people and for this night, they felt like they were out for their depth.

Have I mentioned how they didn’t even know much about the movies/shows and people they were calling on stage? Sigh.

The one thing they were really good at though was mentioning the politicians in the house.

As in, how do you host an event ‘celebrating’ the amazing talent in the film and TV industry but spend the entire night kissing a politician’s ass?

They also had really stale and irrelevant jokes.

I had never seen them host together and after that night, I wouldn’t want to see them do it again. Maybe in a different kind of setting. In my opinion, they were not the best fit for that kind of event.

Politicians

Okay, I feel like I should put this out there, I don’t like politicians.   

I really don’t.

They are all just attention whores and they know how attending such events just gives them that. Especially if cameras are involved.

I HATE it when MCees/hosts spend a shit load of time meant to… I don’t know… do the job they were paid to do, making pleas to/informing us so and so is house…

Yeah? I don’t care Cathy!

Have they made a film? No.

Are they in a new TV show? No.

Do they do anything for this industry? Hell No!

So, why are we going to spend a whole freaking hour listening to their speech about what they ‘think’ the industry deserves and how they are in ‘talks’ about making ‘the first ever Kenyan Blockbuster film to be taken to China’?

I still don’t care, Carol!

We can agree to disagree, politicians shouldn’t even be given a mention in any Kenyan art spaces. They make making art in this country hell. They only remember art, when they know some journalist will probably be in the crowd and instead of just focusing on who won what, they will mention how some women rep, vowed to abolish filming licenses, knowing very well it’s a lie.

Politicians come to these spaces to do what they do best, lie.

Also, stop making them your guests of honour.

What honour have they brought to the arts?

Nonsense!

Jury

The Kalasha awards have a jury that consolidates the nominees and also determines the winners by a 20% vote. 
Yeah I can see your wheels turning. Si you chill, I’ll be talking about the voting thing right after this.

After the awards last year, a film meant to premiere the week after the ceremony won best feature film 2018 and this caused a lot of confusion.

During this debate, information that winners were determined by public votes (80%) and jury (20%) came out and that’s when the drama started. See post below.

What caught my eye though, was that one of the Jury members was also a nominee.

As much as the jury was made up of ‘industry players’, I didn’t understand how they would have a nominee as a jury member.

Isn’t that what we call conflict of interest?

But mimi I’m not a jury member, so I don’t know. You tell me.

I just hope they won’t repeat this because, you can’t set the exam, take it, pass, and then say it was a fair exam.

Voting

This is where all the drama was brewing. Remember that film that won best picture? The public and some industry players were confused as to how a public that had not watched the film was allowed to vote for it and how those votes carried 80% of the deciding factor.

When people started questioning this online, the response was more or less ‘but it’s not a must for a film to have premiered or screened to be submitted’.

Some people suggested, amending the rules to include screening of nominated films to make sure the public/fans voting at least know what they are voting for.

Unfortunately, this still looks like a farfetched dream.

The 2019 nominees were unveiled and upon asking where the nominated films can be found, the Kenya Film Commission was quick to direct people to the Startimes On app.

You know how this went, right?

Check out this conversation.

So the question is, what are you really voting for?

If these awards were truly about merit, shouldn’t the commission find a way to make the nominated films, Tv shows and even documentaries available to the voting public especially given the weight of their votes?

If not, then isn’t this just another popularity contest?

What is a Kalasha?

I also don’t know.

According to their website (which needs a lot of work by the way…), they seem to refer to the Oscars a lot.

“Awards are integral to the establishment and growth of national film industries”. Have the Kalasha’s done this for the Kenyan Film Industry?

“We set benchmarks for future film-makers and encourage the expansion of the industry.”

My question is, has winning a Kalasha award made it easier to get work? Funds? Sponsorships? Partnerships?

Is it just another event?

I really hoped the debate after the awards last year was going to force the commission to examine the way they handle the awards and push towards making them more about promoting the industry and not the commission. Having a streaming app on board for this year’s awards, should have translated into accessibility to the millions of Kenyans expected to vote.

Unfortunately it looks like this ‘voting app’ partner is more interested in increasing their viewership.

If you haven’t watched any of the films/TV shows and want to just vote for your friends or family, then do it. It would be better if you were voting for them because they are the best not just because you know them.

To KFC, there’s still time to work with the producers to have all the nominated films, shorts and shows available to the public even if for just a limited period. You just have to be willing to make it worthwhile for them.

Ni hayo tu kwa sasa.