African Film Directors: Kenyan Film Directors Judy Kibinge and Njue Kevin
Judy Kibinge is a Kenyan film director, writer and producer. She is a known name in the African film scene owing to her award-winning works in films like ‘Dangerous Affair’ and ‘Something Necessary’. In 2017, she gained international recognition when she made history by becoming one of the only two Kenyans who can vote for Oscar Award winners. The other one is Lupita Nyong’o who automatically qualified after winning an Oscar. Judy was handpicked by the Academy to join the ‘Academy Class of 2017’.
But it’s her great work as a Kenyan filmmaker that has hugely contributed to this recent recognition. Judy Kibinge’s films are known to focus on real life situations covering topics that African people can relate with, and encounter in their daily lives. Judy was a Creative Director in advertising agency for eight years before quitting to do what she loves; filmmaking.
In 2002, she made her directing debut by writing and directing ‘Dangerous Affair’, a film that broke the chain of what was regarded as ‘normal’ in the Kenyan film industry. The film explored what was regarded then as a taboo topic in the Kenyan culture, ‘sexuality and cheating in marriage’. ‘Dangerous Affair’ won an award at the Zanzibar Film Festival. This was just the beginning of many other films and awards including a documentary, ‘Coming of Age’, which won an Africa Movie Academy Award, short film ‘Killer Necklace’ – won a Kalasha Award for Best Director and ‘Something Necessary’ – a film about a woman’s struggle after the 2007 Post Election Violence in Kenya – which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. In total, Judy has written, produced and directed over 10 films including ‘The Aftermath’, ‘Bless This Land’, ‘Scarred’ (about the Wagalla Massacre) and ‘A Voice in The Dark’ among others.
Judy runs a production company, Seven, which she co-founded and Docubox, which provides funding and other film-related help to documentary filmmakers.
“I don’t like stories that don’t mean anything at all. I like to reveal something about the world we live in.” – Judy Kibinge
Njue is a 25 years old Kenyan film director who studied filmmaking at Kenyatta University. He has directed short films over the years, however, his debut feature film, ’18 Hours’ is what brought him more attention and recognition in Kenya and Africa.
’18 Hours’, which premiered in Kenya back in November 2017, is based on true events and tells the story of a A rookie paramedic who spends 18 hours in an ambulance for the life of a road crash victim who struggles to be admitted to any hospital. The film reflects the situation of the emergency healthcare system in Kenya. Njue wrote and directed the film which was well received in Kenya and beyond.
His first short film as director was ‘Intellectual Scum’ in 2015. The film details a conversation that takes place in a plane between a white man and an African intellect. In the utterly brutal, honest and to some extent, racist, conversation, the white man blames intellectuals for the deplorable state of the African continent. The 15-minute film was an adaptation of the viral article, ‘You (Lazy) Intellectual African Scum’ by Zambian writer, Field Ruwe. The short film won a Judges Choice Award at the Kenya Slum Film Festival and received a Kalasha award nomination.
As a film director, writer and producer, Njue has worked on other films like ‘Sticking Ribbons’ (writer, producer), ‘Saidia’, (Producer, writer) and ‘Plastic Maasai’ (Director, Writer).
“I want to share experiences. Film is the best way for me to express my experiences or things that I have seen.” – Njue Kevin
To laud the great contribution by African film directors, Film Link Africa will be highlighting film directors from around the world in a series we are calling; African Film Directors.
In this series, we will list African Film Directors in no particular order. This series is not about comparison. It’s not about who has made more films or won more awards. It is about celebrating African Film Directors by highlighting their work and contribution to the African film industry, irrespective of their age, race, number of films and/or awards.