USIU-Africa Film Production and Directing students emerge top at Kalasha Film and TV Awards

By Dr. Rachael Diang'a and Taigu Muchiri

USIU-Africa was one of the big winners of the night at the eleventh edition of the Kalasha International Film and TV Awards, winning three awards out of the eight nominations that it had. The event, held on Saturday, December 11, saw House of Secrets, one of USIU-Africa’s student produced movies walk away with wins in the categories of Best Sound Designer (Kelvin Osoo) (Industry Category), Best Director (Michelle Donde and Steph Sevani) (Industry Category), and Best Feature by a Student (Film School Category).

The University submitted four films out of the five that were produced by fifteen students in August in the final year project course, PRD4010 – Producing from Greenlight to Completion. Out of the four film submissions, two films, Knock – directed by Kelvin Osoo and House of Secrets - directed by Michelle Donde and Steph Sevani made it to the top five in six categories. The students worked in teams to produce industry-standard films, which were partly assessed internally and partly assessed by industry filmmakers who came on campus at the end of August 2021 to watch and give constructive feedback to the students’ work.

Speaking during the presentation of the trophies, the Vice Chancellor Professor Freida Brown expressed her pride and lauded the achievements of each student.

“This win would not have been possible without your time, effort and talent and on behalf of the entire university community, we are proud of this accolade. You are a resource to the university by showcasing some of the talents present at the University,” she said.
Dr. Rachel Diang’a, Chair of the Department of Cinematic and Creative Arts, noted that the wins at the Kalasha Awards portended a strong comeback for the Film Production and Directing students, who had not produced major films last year as a result of the pandemic.

“The nominations for this year’s Awards represented a great improvement on the part of our students, from 6 nominations in 2019 to 8 nominations this year. We are excited to note that the three awards won now bring the number of awards won by our students since 2018 to 50. We hope to field even more contenders for next year’s awards,” she said. This win represents a big milestone for us in the Department and more so for the Bachelor of Film Production and Directing program.

“Since its inception in 2018, the program has grown immensely and this can be seen through the various awards that we have won over the years and this will strengthen the program further,” she added.

Michelle Donde, the director of the award-winning film, House of Secrets, noted that while she produced the film as a school project, she had never expected that it would go on to win a Kalasha Award.

“It has been an extraordinary experience to win these awards, and it is an encouraging sign that the tides are turning in terms of representation in films. I am excited to be an award-winning female director, and I look forward to a time when more and more female directors will share with us their stories through film,” she said.

The Kalasha Film and TV awards were established in 2009 to award excellence in television and film in Kenya and is organized by the Kenya Film Commission.

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