Rock ‘n’ Roll Film Festival, Kenya (ROFFEKE)
“I still think that rock music is the only music that can still get you to that eternal place where you want to start a revolution, call your mother, change your job or change your mind.”
-Bono in Time magazine: Dec 17th, 2001
Or start a film festival!
I am a professional screenwriter, a passionate rock fan and the founder of ROFFEKE — the Rock ‘n’ Roll Film Festival, Kenya. ROFFEKE seeks to promote rock music in Kenya via the media of film, by dispelling rock ‘n’ roll myths and misconceptions. In Kenya, the three major myths and misconceptions about rock ‘n’ roll are that it is:
1) “mzungu” (the white man’s) music
2) the devil’s music
3) only “noise”.
These myths and misconceptions do a big disservice to the budding Kenyan rock bands and are severely limiting them from spreading their wings and flying as artists, entrepreneurs and ambassadors of Kenya. Most of the bands are composed of (black) Kenyans, thereby doing away with the first myth/misconception. Some of the bands (like Bloodshed and Rock of Ages) are Christian and/or sing Christian music, thus doing away with the second myth/misconception. And many of the songs by these Kenyan rock bands have positive messages and are socially conscious, promoting positive change in the society. A very good example is “Speedchaser” by Parking Lot Grass, which speaks against corrupt politicians. Another good example is “March from the Underground” by Last Year’s Tragedy”, a song with a positive, encouraging message that promotes peace.
Currently, I have a blog dedicated to the mission of ROFFEKE. Recently, I added a TV channel to the blog, where I showcase music videos by Kenyan rock bands and clips from popular “rockumentaries”(such as Metallica: Some Kind of Monster), mockumentaries (such as Legends of Doo Wop) and rock ‘n’ roll themed movies (such as Band Wagon). Also recently, I begun the online version of the ROFFEKE film festival. So far, ten rock ‘n’ roll themed international short films and international music videos have been submitted to ROFFEKE and accepted. They include:
“Afraid to shoot strangers” (Spain)
Synopsis: Based on the theme of Iron Maiden’s “Afraid to shoot strangers” and Goya etching “The Sleep Produces Monsters”, this short features a comic book veteran who is visited by his ghosts.
“This is Joe (Este Es Joe)” (Spain)
Synopsis: “During the 70s, in New York, Joe Shuster works as a delivery guy. But it wasn’t always like this…”
“Fairy Tale” (Spain)
Synopsis: Music video for the song “Fairy Tale”, composed and sung by El Sobrino del Diablo (The Devil’s Nephew). The song deals with the world economic and values crisis, especially in Spain, and how it is affecting children.
“Race up Race down” by Brooklyn-based band “Low City”(United States)
Synopsis: “…an abstract meditation on global warming. 1980s style analog video art layering crated with modern desktop tools.”
“Walk Away” by The Verals (Sheffield, UK) “Dancing” by Ekat Bork” (Italy)
“All About Kane” (Italy)
It is these ten, plus the many Kenyan rock music videos and international rockumentaries, short films and feature films, that I would like to show at the 2nd edition of ROFFEKE.
I held the first ROFFEKE on August 16, 2007, to coincide with the 30th death anniversary of Elvis Presley. My budget was passion, my writing skills, incredible optimism, naivete and a healthy dose of insanity! I managed to get three films for screening namely Elvis’ Grave by David Hughens, Altered by Elvis and Afro Punk.
My main problem was getting the venue. I ultimately got a venue with the help of someone who was at the time working at the Kenya Film Commission. The Pavement Club was a great venue, especially for the bands that performed that night, including Seismic and Murfy’s Flaw. However, it wasn’t the greatest venue for film screenings. Thus, the night was both a success and a failure. It was a success because ROFFEKE achieved one of its objectives, which is to provide a platform for local and international, emerging and established rock bands. Done. But it did not succeed in its main objective, which involves screening films.
So to avoid this kind of problem again, ROFFEKE seeks a more appropriate venue.
Pawa254’s “Mageuzi” space is perfect for a day-long ROFFEKE screening. From their website: “PAWA254 is a workspace that offers workshops, trainings, forums and events for all artists who are creating for social impact. It is the first of its kind in Africa.”
ART + ACTIVISM = ARTIVISM
ARTIVISM = PAWA254
With the ROFFEKE screenings, I mainly hope to empower the members of Kenyan rock ‘n’ roll bands by smoothing the bumps they experience due to the Kenyan public’s ignorance of what rock ‘n’ roll is. Artists are the carriers of change. Rock ‘n’ roll artists are usually the carriers of RADICAL change. By entertaining and educating the public through these rock ‘n’ roll films and music videos, I hope and believe that the attitude towards rock ‘n’ roll in Kenya will change, thereby allowing Kenyan rockers the freedom to pursue their artistic activities without unnecessary censure.