About the East Africa Outreach: July 10 - July 24, 2011

Mission Statement

“Connecting Creative Communities Around the Globe Through the Art and Science of Film”

The Academy's International Outreach program brings delegations of visiting film artists to countries with developing film industries, as well as creating opportunities for creative conversations between emerging and established filmmakers from many nations. Past outreach trips to Vietnam, Iran and Cuba have included public screening programs, technical trainings and master classes, and have resulted in numerous cultural initiatives, including exhibitions, international screening series in Los Angeles, and professional opportunities for participating filmmakers. 

Throughout the globe, the Academy seeks to inspire local filmmaking communities by sharing the expertise of its professional filmmaker members, who are recognized as leaders in their crafts, as well as fostering an appreciation of each culture’s unique stories. Local partners are engaged and long-term relationships forged, with the goal of supporting the ability of local filmmakers to share their vision, while enhancing their technical capabilities and their sense of themselves as artists.

A customized program is developed for each outreach trip, designed to create opportunities for cultural dialogue specific to each partner country’s filmmaking conditions and challenges. Academy members from diverse crafts such as screenwriting, directing, cinematography, producing, sound, production design, acting, editing and documentary filmmaking participate in a dialogue with local film professionals, students and community members, sharing their movies and stories with one another.

Why East Africa?

Prior to this trip, the Academy has initiated Outreach projects in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and we’ve long wanted to connect with filmmakers in Africa. East Africa as a region is experiencing an upswing in the number and quality of films being produced there. We visited two countries in the region, Kenya and Rwanda, though our activities involved interactions with a number of professional and aspiring filmmakers from other countries of the region, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Read our journal from the trip


More information about our partner programs

The Academy identified a number of exciting training programs to collaborate with including One Fine Day - Film Workshops (formerly FilmAfrica!), a relatively recent initiative in Nairobi, Kenya that was spearheaded by German director Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run,” “Perfume”). Now in its third year, One Fine Day chooses, through a short film competition, 80 young filmmakers from amongst hundreds from several of the countries in the region. Training is offered in eight filmmaking disciplines, and the students then collaborate on a feature film shoot later that year. One Fine Day’s first production, “Soul Boy” has screened at over 60 international film festivals; their second film, “Nairobi Half-Life” is currently being edited. The group being trained on this trip will shoot a feature-length script in October.

The Academy group offered three free screening evening events and public Q&As for the One Fine Day trainees and the local creative community. Presenting their films were cinematographer John Bailey and editor Carol Littleton (“Silverado”), sound recorder and mixer Willie Burton (“The Shawshank Redemption”), and actress Alfre Woodard and production designer Wynn Thomas (“Crooklyn”).

Also in Kenya, the Academy members visited the Kakuma Refugee Camp near the Sudanese border in the northwest of the country to experience the work of Film Aid, a frequent beneficiary of the Academy Grants program. Film Aid is an NGO that uses film training and open-air screenings to address social and medical issues affecting the tens of thousands of long-term residents of these camps, as well as the community of Kibera, a large slum in Nairobi. The Academy has facilitated the inclusion of One Fine Day's training group in some of the programs being offered by Film Forward, which is organized by the Sundance Institute with support from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

One of the goals of the Academy’s international efforts is to encourage more countries to submit entries for its Foreign Language Film Award, which is presented annually at the Academy Award ceremony. The Academy members on this trip met with the national submission committees in Kenya and Rwanda in an effort to ensure that more films from sub-Saharan Africa participate in the Oscar competition.

Coincidental to the Academy’s visit to Kenya, another U.S. based project, Film Forward, was presenting screenings in Nairobi. The Academy has facilitated the inclusion of One Fine Day’s training group in some of the programs being offered by Film Forward, which is organized by the Sundance Institute with support from the President’s Council on the Arts. Members in the delegation participated in a public panel discussion along with local film professionals and visiting Film Forward directors.


The Rwanda Cinema Centre was founded in 2002, and runs the Rwanda Film Institute, a local filmmaking program in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.  During the Academy’s visit we helped to inaugurate the new Kwetu Film Institute, an expansive professional training center for East African filmmakers, and visiting Academy members offered master classes to incoming and past students as well as local filmmakers.

The visiting Academy members also experienced the opening night of the Rwanda Film Festival, held in Kigali, and its regional festival “Hillywood,” which presents open-air screenings of African films for audiences of 5,000-10,000 people per night in the seven hill regions of the country.

These various programs have contributed to the enhancement of regional filmmaking capacity and brought Rwandan stories to festivals and commercial cinemas throughout the world, while helping the country heal from the tragedy of the still-recent genocide.

Read about "Finding Hillywood" and the Rwanda filmmaking initiative in 2014

Watch highlights from the Academy screening of "Finding Hillywood"

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