It is a great feat, making a film, right from conception to the time you put the last name in the credits roll, in 48 hours and then having it screened at Cannes Film Festival. It means you were the best, at least during the competition. BAIT, the winner at the 2015 Nairobi 48 Hour Film Project competition was screened at Cannes Festival. The 48 Hour Film Project has a special arrangement with the Cannes Film Festival to have a special screening.
The film directed by Likarion Wainaina and written by Brian Munene is the only African film from 48 hours project to be featured. Cannes remains one of the most prestigious, revered and widely followed international film festivals in the world. Getting selected for screening is a big deal in the film industry as most nominees win big in the box office or in major film award ceremonies. However, Cannes is notorious for upsetting the expected as a focus on narrative depth and Cinematography outweighs budgets and big shot Hollywood actors. This year, the winner came from Iran. In 2015, the Palme d’Or went to a then little known Dheepan .
At the 48hrs film competition, filmmakers get a set of words, a prop, and genre and use that to make a film within 48 hours. The competition begins on a Friday evening. The participants are expected to film, edit, colour correct and submit by Sunday 7:30pm. The films are then screened a few weeks later and the audience gets a chance to vote for which film they deemed best. While the 48hrs Nairobi judging panelists choose which film wins and other awards such as Best film, Best Editing, Best Script, and Best Cinematography among others.
The 2015 prop was a padlock and main line ‘Where did you get it ’
They had a stunningly lean cast. Many of the extras remain out of shot, or faceless, a tactful way of drawing the viewer to the specific emotion at a moment. The acting was above par. There are some scenes that could have done with deeper expression by the main subject, Jacky Kaboi. Still, she truly stands out, her character is both a protagonist and an antagonist, a middle ground she tried best to capture and embody.
Millicent Ogutu performs magnificently, drawing a dead gaze equal to a tortured soul. The cinematography is very impressive. The use of depth, close up frames and reaction shots from the beginning places the film on a steady path on telling the story via picture. You could easily understand the film if you played it on mute. The opening frame, the back of a car as Maryanne comes into the shot,is an amazing angle from where I sit. The creativity in frame, movement and continuation is remarkable. Few would have achieved the tracking shot from the car window or the tilt from the fork up and down later to the wine bottle in Maryanne’s hand. The additional of a villain character into re-enacted scene adds to the suspense of the film narrative.
The dialogue in Bait is not only simple but straightforward. Much of the expression is done with the image. The music selection was dramatic, very well used especially with natural/ambience. This set the film as an easy reminder of a real life scene and draws perspective to real life situations couples face.
On a side note: It is impressive that most films which win the 48hrs film festival explore the use of minimal dialogue and clear well coloured frames get higher scores with an even simpler plotline/script. So as the year progresses those who are considering participating should borrow key pointers from BAIT.