ROFFEKE OFFICIAL SELECTIONS 2020

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ROFFEKE is proud to partner with Additude Africa
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ROFFEKE is proud to partner with ipitch.tv
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ROFFEKE Values
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ROFFEKE logo by Jozie of Kenyan band 'Murfy's Flaw'

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Comments on "The ABC of ROFFEKE" Screenings (September 2015 at iHub)

I liked all the films especially the one for Superman [“This is Joe”] and the last one which was longer [“ Frontman ”]. I look forward to at...

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Interview with Teddy Gitau, Kirimi Kiage and Blake Simpson - Scriptwriters of "Tethered"

Teddy Gitau: You lecture scriptwriting at African Digital Media Institute. In what ways does teaching scriptwriting help you with your own scriptwriting?



Kirimi Kiage: You are the co-founder of Nyota Art Gallery. Tell us a bit about it and how being involved with it influences your storytelling?


Blake Simpson: You were born and raised in Seattle, Washington, spent 7 years in East Africa and are currently in Switzerland. What similarities in filmmaking or storytelling do you see in these three different regions?



What about your screenplay “Tethered” highlights the theme/concept of friendship, fun and/or freedom?

What lessons did 2020 teach you?

Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?

Watch the full interview here

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Interview: Egor Gavrilin - Director of The Bluestocking Music Video for "Never Ready"

ROFFEKE: I loved your interview on Shortcloseup.com so for this ROFFEKE interview, I would like to ask some follow-up questions:

In the interview, you mentioned that you directed a “part theatrical performance part radio play based on Ray Bradbury’s short story ‘Kaleidoscope’”. Please share some of your favourite memories/lessons you learned from that early directorial experience.

EGOR: Since it was my first case of consciously directing something there was a lot of mini observations and conclusions. But there was one main thing I realised:

The process and the product are two different universes.

A bit of context: in school we had this yearly event where every class would prepare a 15-20 minute theatrical piece. Officially it wasn’t a competition but in reality for a month the whole school turned into a Game of Thrones kind of ball of intrigues, treasons, plotting. Everybody spying on others and trying to figure out what they were preparing and do something for their piece to look better. And while everybody was so in this process of gossiping and doing small-time politics I was in my room at the computer trying to realise what the hell needs to be done to make this piece work. You know, directing stuff. And that contrast between the two “layers” of the process can be seen in all sorts of projects, no matter how big. People can get too excited by everything that happens “around” the production process (who wouldn’t be? it’s always such an exciting emotional rollercoaster) that quite often they forget that having an exciting time on set (or near it) does not equal making a great film (or anything, really). And you have to always be able to turn off all the side-effects of the process and look at the product with fresh eyes and see whether it’s working or not.

ROFFEKE: The first script of “The Bluestocking - Never Ready” was ditched. What were some elements/scenes that you loved about it?

EGOR: I loved the whole thing.

Short story long.

I am that kind of a director who can’t work on a music video without knowing and feeling the musician(s) first. I usually torture them with several-hour talks and then ask them hundreds of stupid questions in messengers (I start to draft ideas before all this but you can really see how they become better as I learn new things about the band and the song). And this first version of the script appeared from all those meetings and talks.

The story was a very dark tale set in a fantasy version of early XX century (think Tim Burton type setting but without any hint of humour). It was about a girl who went through hell in her childhood, then later became a showgirl superstar. When she fell in love with a man she couldn’t trust him and she started to have paranoid suspicions that he was going to hurt and betray her. The ending is as dark as you can imagine it. Visually it was a number of “static” scenes. The camera would fly through them, revealing details and telling the story through that. If you know the Spike Jonze’s 2-minute short “The New Normal” for MedMen – it’s pretty much how we wanted to do it.

That answers the question but I wanted to add a small P.S. to that.

After it became clear that the budget for realising that idea the way we wanted would be gigantic I had to start from scratch. Around that time the guys said “Hey, this is our debut video. Maybe let’s introduce ourselves to people, let’s make it about us”. That’s when all the torturous talks and my stupid questions came in handy: if I hadn’t gotten to know the guys enough I just wouldn’t be able to come up with the stories that you see in the video.

ROFFEKE: "Zero" hand-crafted all the Steampunk objects. What was your process of collaboration in bringing to life these objects? Were the objects part of the script or were they conceptualized independently? How long did it take to craft the objects? Which Steampunk influences did you refer to, if any?

EGOR: Some of the devices were in the script from the very beginning because they were essential for the stories (like, the saxophonist’s “charger”, the “head jukebox” and the camera with the built-in printing machine). Some objects appeared in the video just because “Zero” said “I also have this, do you want it?” and I went “Are you kidding?! This is even better than what I could ever think about!” That’s how the costumes for the two “guitar engineers” appeared, for example. 

Some of the “essential” objects were combinations of stuff that he already had but some had to be made from scratch (the “head jukebox”). Working with “Zero” was pretty easy. He is one of those guys who have a pretty solid style but at the same time great imagination and so it’s not a problem for him to think of something outlandish and you always know it will look awesome.

However, there was a moment when it backfired a little bit. When I briefed “Zero” I described the saxophonist’s charger as a rusty “infinite engine” (that’s what these wiggly things are called in Russia’s toy stores) and it seemed clear to him and it was probably the easiest thing to make from the whole list. But on the day of the shoot he brought the device he made – and it was a totally different thing altogether. It looked great but it was not doing what it’s supposed to do (which is move on its own and “create” energy this way). Turned out “Zero” didn’t know what “infinite engine” was and just came up with one (it’s not his fault, of course; it was my problem that I didn’t make it clear enough during the briefing). So we ended up not having a vital prop on the day of the shoot. So some people from the producers’ team went and bought a couple of those wiggly “infinite engines” and made them look rusty on the set.

I think all in all “Zero” spent several days crafting the things for us. He works pretty fast. As for references I think mine were “The city of lost children” and a little bit of “Brazil” but like I said, “Zero” had a pretty solid style he works in. So mostly he was his own stylistic reference.

ROFFEKE: You mentioned that your social anxiety could be a reason that you are a “terrible festival person”. What advice would you offer a new filmmaker who struggles with social anxiety?

EGOR: I have two opposite options for advice here.

Option #1: I don’t remember who said it but here goes: “Make your work so good that they can’t ignore you” and so you won’t have to approach anyone. The downside of this advice is that even if your work is bloody amazing you would still achieve a lot more with it if you socialized and networked. So I guess you will still need to consider option #2.

Option #2 is very tactical: Try starting the conversation by admitting that you are anxious but you want to talk to the person so much that you overcame it. Usually that opens people up. Also, if there are specific people you want to talk to, research is your friend. Find out as much as you can about them and you will not run out of things to talk about.


ROFFEKE: 2020 was a tumultuous year for most of us. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

EGOR: 2020 was indeed a year of lessons. Most of them were tragic because of all the lives that were lost. But there was one observation of a less tragic kind that I couldn’t help but make:

Humans are a lot less in control of themselves than they think they are.

During the pandemic there was quite a number of small human “side effects”. Like, for example, there was a couple of months in the beginning of the year when everybody (not sure about other countries but in Russia it was pretty common) became really mean to people who looked Asian (up to not allowing them to enter places) because everybody heard something about a disease spreading in China. I won’t comment on stupidity of such behaviour but what’s really sad is how people are prone to using very little information and not questioning the conclusions they’re making from it. Or the paradoxical situation where Russia was producing the vaccine, it was free for everybody to have but nobody was signing up for vaccination. And when you ask people why, they give you some vague answers like “I’m not sure about it” which make no sense at all.

It’s clear that these “mind glitches” happen because people just don’t know how to deal with a situation like that and their autopilots don’t have a suitable program for it. Which is fascinating and at the same time extremely scary to observe.


Check out the fascinating and extremely entertaining music video for "Never Ready" a song by The Bluestocking.

Director's Statement:

Since the music video was the band's debut, we set ourselves the task of introducing people to the band from the very beginning. But this acquaintance had to be not simple, but, first of all, very personal, and secondly, made in a style that would correspond to the unique sound of the band as much as possible. Each story turned out not only about the band members, but also about the universal, big problems that people face in life or bring upon themselves: addiction, burnout, dependence on other people's opinions. So the music video turned out to be fabulous, but also a very dark warning about how easy it is to lose yourself by submitting to your inner urges, even if they are very sincere.

Director Bio:

Egor Gavrilin was born on 15.12.1987 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In 2010 graduated from Moscow State University of Culture and Arts as a director.



Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Outcast Kid, Tom Morello and Politics

 “When I first moved to Hollywood, I thought I was going to rule the Sunset Strip with my heavy metal guitar licks…that didn’t work out. Nobody really wanted me. My hair wasn’t right, my skin wasn’t right…” - Tom Morello in “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell”

“If a Greek can be an outcast in this day and age, what are the chances for those from Syria? We are shown what it is like to be an outsider; being picked on, having to constantly prove yourself, the constant reminder that you are not like everyone. The theme resonates with every kid who was always picked on for being different from the rest, resonates with that third world country never taken serious by the 'super  power' country. Shout out to those parents and relatives who listen and offer advise for such situations.” - Review by Love Kassim.

“I was finally accepted by the East Side rocking community which is bands like Fishbone, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Imagine my surprise…I grew up in a really stultifying, conservative suburb of Chicago and I went to an Ivy League school [Harvard] and all of a sudden my best friends were all drug addicts and prostitutes, who, many of them had a heart of gold. They accepted me when others did not.”

“The film talks about a half nationality [dual nationality] boy who has to deal with two sides of a coin, being half Greek and half Romanian. I liked that it addresses social issues as we see them, tribalism, ethnicity, religion, racism, and the fact that the young boy feels torn in between. It has addressed a multitude of issues that are overlooked and the issue of bullying is heavily seen here.  What l didn't like was the inclusion of politics that is hard to understand for the young boy.” - Review by Inez.

W. Kamau Bell: Why do you think it’s important for artists to be connected to social movements?”

Tom Morello: An artist’s only responsibility is to be true to themselves. If you do have convictions in the political arena then you shouldn’t divorce them from your vocation.”

Tom Morello's segment is from minute 13:40.

The Outcast Kid trailer.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mike Messier: Lessons from 2020, New novel, Screenwriting versus Novel writing

ROFFEKE Alumnus Mike Messier shares what he's been up to and the lessons he learned from 2020.

 1. What is your novel about and what makes it stand out?

"A Distance from Avalon: when the dying and the dead reunite" is about a school teacher named Joe and his co-worker named Shadow who find themselves at a mysterious, gothic castle on Halloween night hosted by the enigmatic Jean La Croix Distance and his lover Heartbreak. As the night unfolds, the hosts are able to pry emotional secrets from their guests in what seems like genuine bonding and friendship but is ultimately revealed as a more nefarious tactic to gain their trust. I'd like to think that the dialogue of the piece and unique paragraph structure stand out as well as the cover art by my collaborator Nazar Germanov. 

2. What did you like about the process of writing the novel and what did you find challenging?

Writing in the novel format definitely has more freedom in terms of length of paragraphs, structure, page count etc. Also, there were no deadlines on me for this project, since I wrote and self-published it on Amazon on my own terms.  The book can be purchased on kindle or paperback here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SQ6SQ48?ref_=k4w_oembed_S4vCSZx87c64LC&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

3. What's the difference between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?

A big difference is that feature film screenplays have certain understood "expectations"  that become part of the mix for a writer. "By page twelve, there should be an inciting incident", "no scene should be longer than two pages" etc are some of the lessons learned in screenwriting classes and through books that become part of the "mental fabric" of a screenwriter's mind. When writing a screenplay, there is also a running dialogue of "can this idea be actually filmed?"  and "Am I writing a script that can be filmed on a budget?" type questions.  When writing a screenplay, there is usually not a guarantee that the script itself will ever be filmed, so there is a sense of uncertainty if the writing efforts are in vain or not.  Freeing myself from those constraints and concerns in writing this novel was a welcomed change of pace. 

4. Any other new projects?

I have been working a lot on my YouTube Channel during the pandemic, doing road trip videos, Mike's Instant Movie Reviews, Pro Wrestling rants,   interviews including "This Podcast Cures Racism", and more. People can subscribe from this link:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSx8RE_a4Nh_Fq-BpUq7ghw

As far as writing, I'm working on the second of  A Distance from Avalon  trilogy right now! The cover art is already ready, now it's up to me to do the writing! 

I also worked with my friend Aaron Woodson on an "urban romance" feature film script titled Aaliyah and Troy, more info can be found here: https://mikemessier.com/2021/01/27/aaliyah-and-troy/

 I recently did some acting in a couple of films, both of which directed by my friend Tom DeNucci. One of them titled "The Mick and the Trick" is a fun action film shot in Pennsylvania in October, 2020. Info here: https://mikemessier.com/2020/11/26/mikes-road-trip/

Federico Castelluccio and Mike Messier on The Mick and The Trick set

I chronicled my road trip up there for "Subscribe to Mike Messier YouTube Channel" . I have also been tweaking and improving a lot of my feature film scripts including American Luchador: The Dream of Lobo Fuego and Also Ran, my prison drama.

5. What lessons did 2020 teach you?

The lesson from 2020 is that time is short for all of us and if any of us want to "make a dent in the universe", then it's best to get going soon because we are not guaranteed another fifty, thirty, ten or even five years on this earth. We must do what we can to make our goals into realities before we are dead, because if we end up in that shallow grave with things still on our "things to do list" , well, then it will be too late! 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

International Women's Day: Spotlight on ROFFEKE Interns, Reviewers and "Clara"

Tomorrow, 8th March, is International Women's Day. ROFFEKE salutes all women, including ROFFEKE former interns Josephine Koima and Lesley Gakuo and current ROFFEKE reviewers Love Kassim and Inez Inās.

Below is Inez's review of  the rockumentary"Clara":

Hi I'm Inez writing a review on "Clara" a short film by Benjamin Montel.

What impressed me was the content; the narrator is very insightful and the other characters are quite interesting. 

What l liked about the video is the rawness with which she talks about about her feelings, her deepest desires, her fears, and how she wants to impact others; it's how she said that she wants to create what her father didn't create, it's the love and support of her family especially with the gold album. It's the loneliness and sadness that you could see in her eyes, her strength and how she feels her handiwork finally paid off. The fact that she wants to talk about women and the sensuality involved without being erotic and without putting sexuality in it, that was beautiful. 

(Watch the CLARA Trailer.)

What l did not like about the video is the translation; it was left out in some places. The lighting of the video felt gloomy and sad and lost, also the people surrounding her, they felt aloof and did not care about her, the feeling that she feels lonely even in a sea of people, the people around did not celebrate her achievement, but her family loved her achievements. 

It reminded me of my favourite boyband BTS because in a way the boys also feel lost and lonely after concerts and also the emotions and fears that are faced by many artists without then knowing if the audience will love the performance and the music. It puts into perspective that each artist has to top the next song higher than the other hit. The army audience when they decide to sing along that feeling that the boys feel is the one l believe she felt herself when she came off the stage the first time. 

(Watch BTS' version of Coldplay's "Fix You")

ROFFEKE wishes all women a happy International Women's Day!


Monday, January 11, 2021

Reviews: Tired Eyes (Written and Directed by Ryan Martin Brown)

As someone who is "schlepping" a small rock 'n' roll film festival in a less than conducive environment, I could totally relate to Tired Eyes (directed by Ryan Martin Brown). I can see the utter ridiculousness of it all...and also the utter importance of it. 

Overview

"Rose, Mitch, and Trevor make up the lo-fi rock band Tired Eyes. The trio have a small gig tonight, which means schlepping gear from a cramped practice space in Brooklyn to the middle of Manhattan. Unfortunately, the city has a way of making even the simplest of tasks absurdly difficult."

'A snapshot of people you know... [it] questions the purpose of art in a way that I found very moving.'

- Antonio Mendez-Esparza, Cassavetes Award Winner

'Perfectly captures the chaos and madness of New York, and the hustle of trying to get something off the ground.'

- Kentucker Audley, NoBudge.com


Reviewer: Love Kassim

This video shows what most, if not all, bands go through right before a gig and I think such hustles stem much of their writing.

Of course they are late and have to beg for a chance to play.

I can only imagine how long it took to set up.

Makes you wonder what kind of situation musicians go through right before and even after a show.

They are surprisingly good.

Set is done and they have to find a way back home.

Their band name is fitting after the day they just had: Tired Eyes.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that it is relatable and peaceful. l liked that it was funny and showed what happens everyday in life when you are not organized. The music was calm yet it showed confusion. l did not like how the scenes were short and how the characters were quite insensitive to their neighbors; they simply were in their own cocoon plus they were rude. The film reminded me of some of the fun, laid back comedy movies l have watched; the characters usually are petty but fun, eg Love Rosie, it showed her love life and the effects of not telling your love before, but it ended well.

Love Kassim: Side bar, can I find this band on YouTube, check out their music or they were just actors?

ROFFEKE: They were actors 😊

"Mitch" - Steven Carter

"Rose" - Emily DeForest

"Trevor" - Cecil Jennings

Writer/Director - Ryan Martin Brown

Producer - Paula Andrea Gonzalez-Nasser

Reviews: Vices (A poem by Matt Wohlfarth, performed by John Vento)

 Reviewer: Love Kassim

My first instinct after hearing that poem was switching off my phone and going off grid😂

Vices is a poem that enumerates how the powers in play use mass deception, rather mass psychology, to control, influence, manipulate and persuade the masses.

This machinery uses vices, for example, devices that get you hooked and before you know it you can't live without them.

Misinformation is peddled and Propaganda is peddled to whoever will take an interest.

Internet memes for example are one of the latest revolutions on spreading propaganda and are an effective tool in the arsenal of digital persuasion.

Whatever we are fed by the powers at play influence how we think and conduct ourselves and it's time we woke up and saw reality for what it is.


Reviewer: Inez Inās

My first impression was that the poem is deep and rugged. l liked the catchy visuals, the sound being both commanding and soothing; the use of black invoked the feelings of a dark world and the poet's voice is seductive as if he has a secret. l did not like that some visuals seem to take us back in time instead of the current era, the vagueness of the poem and the feeling of guilt evoked. Reminds me of how we have come to see and believe everything that we see without question and how the big fish are manipulating the small fish figuratively.

Directed by Jim Pitulski. Watch "Vices" here 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

This Day on Kenya Rocks: January 7th, 2008

Jan 7, 2008 

hey happy new year to u too the start of the year hasnt been too good but im sure we can improve that maybe we can do a rock blood drain drive to give blood to the red cross guys or have a rock 4 peace concert i mean aint rock all about the love?

- Kenya Rocks yahoo group member.

My reply:

Jan 7, 2008 

Great ideas! We can do both. Right now we are organizing a ‘Kenya Live Aid’ show to collect food,clothes etc. To be held on the 20th of January. Maybe we can do the rock blood drain and rock 4 peace concert in February? Organizing is the real headache. Could you or anyone else in Kenya Rocks volunteer to be in charge of these two projects?  And yes, rock is all about the love. Yesterday I was doubting this but after reading all the ‘proposal’ emails posted here, I believe! I believe!:-)  Oh and we should definitely have a New Year’s show. To make up for the awful way we started the new year. Maybe in March?:-)



Shiku and I are in the process of organizing... Entry fee will be food, clothes, bottled water, medicine…anything to help the victims of the post-election violence. Who else is with us?