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Nairobi, 13 June 2023: Wildscreen Festival Nairobi, with Headline Sponsor BBC Studios Natural History Unit, today has released its final lineup of headline speakers and sessions for its first-ever African festival. The event, taking place at Alliance Française, Nairobi, from 30th June – 1st July 2023, showcases the key players in the African natural world storytelling and conservation sectors, alongside leading global industry players.

The programme features over 30 speakers, across 14 sessions, networking sessions and film screenings, including the Kenyan premiere of the Disney+ and National Geographic series ‘Secrets of the Elephants’, where delegates will hear firsthand behind-the-scenes experiences from renowned Conservationist and Presenter Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Director of Photography, Andreas Knausenberger and Sound Recordist Edna Bonareri.

Dr Erustus Kanga, Ag. Director General, Kenya Wildlife Service and Silvia Museiya, Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife for Kenya will participate in the opening address.

The programme will cover key aspects of the  wildlife film and TV industry, focussing on careers, funding, production, cinematography and impact. The Festival will specifically feature a range of commissioners, buyers and production companies featuring representatives from Royal Media, Safaricom, Disney, BBC, BBC Studios Natural History Unit, Wildstar Films and Silverback Films. 

The headline sessions include Conservation Storytelling in Africa featuring a panel of Kenyan conservation experts, moderated by Dr Leela Hazzah an Egyptian conservation biologist working in Kenya and Tanzania. Also including Winnie Kiiru, a Conservationist and Chairperson of the Wildlife Research Institute. The panel will discuss how storytelling is used to impactfully drive conservation efforts. In addition, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves will speak with Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, to discuss her experience of creating the Academy Award-winning documentary, ‘The Elephant Whisperers.’

Wild Pitch, supported by National Geographic, completes the headline sessions and gives six filmmakers, born or living in Kenya, the opportunity to present their nature-focussed film ideas to a panel of commissioners in the hopes of winning a cash prize of up to $10,000. The jury include Head of Natural History, BBC Commissioning – BBC, Sreya Biswas, Sr. Vice President of Program Development and Production at National Geographic Janet Vissering and Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit Jonny Keeling among others. 

Key sessions include a Cinematography Masterclass with Erica Rugabandana and Manu Akatsa; a Creative Pathways panel featuring Kenyan filmmakers making waves in the international industry including Faith Musembi (Chasing the Rains), Peter Ndung’u and Clement Kiragu; and an impact panel featuring Jigar Ganatra (AFRISOS), Trish Sewe (WildlifeDirect) and Catherine Enane (The Elephant Queen). 

The two-day Festival is hosted by Jahawi Bertolli, an award-winning Kenyan Filmmaker and Presenter, who will bring his own experiences and passion for stories within his country. 

Nairobi was chosen to host as Kenya is widely recognised as a leading destination for conservation and natural history film and the festival has been created through a collaborative partnership between Wildscreen, BBC Studios Natural History Unit, WildlifeDirect, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Film Commission, and the African Wildlife Foundation. 

Dr Erustus Kanga, Ag. Director General, Kenya Wildlife Service, said: “With every frame and every story shared during this festival, we shall promote Kenya as the preferred tourism destination, emphasizing the country’s commitment to preserving its natural treasures. The Wildscreen Festival in Nairobi will not only showcase the incredible wildlife of Kenya but also reinforce our dedication to conservation. It is an opportunity to connect with new audiences, inspire change, and position Kenya as a leader in conservation and sustainable tourism.”  

Lucie Muir, CEO of Wildscreen: “Kenya is at the epicentre for some of the world’s leading natural world storytelling content and this event will help to platform the perspectives of local talent following our successful global hub last year. To showcase the rich local culture, environment and history, we have curated a selection of the best in African storytelling, filmmaking, production and conservation. Together with our partners, we aim to build new creative opportunities within our sector to further develop the television and film industry across the continent.” 

Jonny Keeling, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, said: “With an amazing line up, we are incredibly excited to be Headline Sponsor of Wildscreen Nairobi to celebrate and recognise the hugely significant role of African storytellers in the world of wildlife filmmaking. This unique event will bring together programme makers from across the African continent with the wider production and commissioning community, creating a forum to explore new opportunities, share ideas and to network.”

The full programme is now available on the Wildscreen Festival website. A limited number of tickets remain, with concessions starting from £30. 

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