On 10th November 2020, Kenya Film Commission announced “The Letter” as Kenya’s official submission for the 93rd Academy Awards (Oscars) in the Best International Feature Film Category. Kenya Film Commission (KFC) is officially recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) to set up an OSCARS Selection Committee from Industry Associations and Guilds to make submissions for the Best International Feature Film Category Award (formerly known as the Best Foreign Language Film Category Award) on behalf of the Kenyan film industry.
An International Feature Film is defined as a feature-length (over 40min) motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track. Animated and Documentary Feature Films are also permitted. Only one film per country can qualify and a country needs not to submit a film every year. If successful at the Academy stage, the film is then considered as NOMINATED and once a film is nominated, it is then eligible to compete for The Oscars. Submission from Kenya is NOT equal to a Nomination.
Filmed with a gentle pace and incredible closeness, “The Letter” is an intimate family portrait that reveals an indestructible female power. The Documentary film was directed and produced by Maia Lekow and Christopher King with the support of Docubox, the East African Documentary Film Fund. Following its world premiere at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2019, “The Letter” has been screened in various Festivals around the globe, receiving a Special Jury Mention at the Docs Barcelona (Panorama Competition) in May 2020 and a nomination at the One World Media Awards in April 2020.
The OSCARS Selection Committee Kenya (OSCK) in keeping with the timelines provided by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) made a Call for Submissions on 11th September 2020 for Kenyan filmmakers to submit their respective film projects to the committee for their consideration of selecting one of those films as Kenya’s Submission Entry for the 93rd OSCARS Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category.
Following the close of the (Kenyan) Call for Submissions on 27th October 2020, The OSCARS Selection Committee Kenya received two (2) entries; One Documentary Film & One Feature film, namely “The Letter” and “Uradi” respectively. On 2nd November 2020, the Committee convened to view and select an entry as required by the regulations of The Academy.
The trailers of the two films can be viewed here:
“The Letter”: https://www.the-letter.org/
Both entries were thoroughly scrutinized to ensure they met the required specifications and were recorded as duly received by the Committee. The OSCARS Selection Committee Kenya, being an extension of The Academy, seeks to uphold the laid down parameters provided in the Special Rules and Regulations as it considers each entry. The strength of the body of work both in technical and entertainment value was looked at.
This Submission of “The Letter” is only the first step in a series of stages that the movie has to undergo before being nominated. The nominees for the 93rd Oscars Academy Awards will be announced by the Academy on 9th February 2021 ahead of the Oscars Academy Awards ceremony scheduled for 25th April 2021.
Members of the Oscars Selection Committee Kenya (OSCK) are: Krysteen Savane (OSCK Chair | Kenya Film and TV Professionals Association), Alamin Virani (OSCK Secretary | Kenya Actors Guild), Albert Wandago (Kenya National Film Association), Mwendwa Mutua (Riverwood Ensemble), Wycliffe Buhere Tsinje (Association of Film Producing Educational Institutions of Kenya), Dennis Mbuthia (Association of Animation Artists), Fatma Wandia (Producers Guild), Serah Mwihaki (Kenya Scriptwriters Guild), Patricia Mollyne Mataga (Writers Guild, Kenya) and Emily Wanja (Docubox).
The Committee congratulates the Producers of “The Letter” and is calling on more filmmakers in Kenya to submit their films for the Oscars as this gives Kenya a chance to compete globally, thus growing and improving the local industry. The Committee is urging Producers to work with KFC to understand the requirements of Oscars submissions. The specifications for submission are available on the Kenya Film Commission website and also on The Academy Website under Academy Special Rules and Regulations – i.e. Rule Thirteen.
We advise filmmakers to look out for the next Academy call in mid-2021. There will be periodic communication from the Oscars Selection Committee Kenya each quarter.