Winning Film Released in Michael Kiwanuka & FilmAid Music Video Competition

The winning film in Michael Kiwanuka and FilmAid's music video contest has been released on Vevo, it was announced today. You can view the video hereBelow, NeeNee Productions' Gayle Nosal discusses the creation of the video, winning the competition, and what's next for their project.

The footage seen in our music video came from a two-week field production in Uganda in the summer of 2013. The filmmaking team at Inflatable Film—Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday and Chris Towey—traveled from Rwanda and Seattle to meet NeeNee Productions and collaborate on the initial phase of a longer-term production to follow a group of refugee and displaced teenage girls who live together in Uganda, hoping to stay in school and pursue their dreams for the future. The longer-term goal of the project is to capture over time the important dynamics of the girls’ lives—their shared pasts, their common household, their larger community, and their future pathways. 

NeeNee Productions is returning to Uganda in February 2014 to continue gathering footage of the girls as well as their families and friends in the surrounding communities. We are also excited to share that during our February trip, NeeNee is collaborating with Ugandan professionals to bring various skills and expertise to the project and provide creative and personal mentoring to the girls. For example, in February, NeeNee Productions is hiring four professional, university-educated Ugandan women as camera/video instructor (using video cameras donated to the girls by NeeNee), cultural and community liaison story-telling teacher, interviewer, and refugee consultant. NeeNee has also hired a Ugandan-based videographer for this trip.

We at NeeNee Productions are overjoyed that FilmAid and Michael Kiwanuka chose our music video to be the grand prizewinner of their contest. We extend our deepest gratitude to the young women featured in the music video, to their families and friends, and to the people of Think Humanity, who are dedicated to educating these girls. The ongoing project will culminate in a documentary film as well as a unique video content online. You can follow the progress of these girls and our project at and on twitter at @intheneenee

On behalf of everyone involved at NeeNee Productions, we would like to thank FilmAid, Michael Kiwanuka, Talenthouse as well as Inflatable Film and Think Humanity for the opportunity to enter this contest and share our deep connection to the girls with others.

Making Melodies in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

This blog was reposted from Creative Time Reports
By FilmAid, Nairobi Kenya
December 14, 2012

“The Music Producer” is the story of Omwot Omwot Ogul, full-time music producer, part-time handyman, who lives in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee settlement.

After fleeing his homeland, the Gambela region in Ethiopia, in 2004, Omwot found himself in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. He subsequently moved to capital Nairobi, where he discovered his love of music. Five years later, Omwot was forced to uproot once again. This time, he relocated to the Dadaab camp, home to nearly 500,000 refugees.

Now an independent music producer, an unlikely profession in this isolated corner of sub-Saharan Africa, Omwot empowers his fellow refugees to make music about their lives and helps them record that music. On the side, he works as a handyman, repairing and charging phones for people in the camp, using a personal solar panel he built and installed.

“The Music Producer” was shot by Ramah Hawkins, a Nairobi-based filmmaker who spent several months in the settlement collaborating with FilmAid’s Kenyan and refugee staff and film students there. The short film is part of Dadaab Stories, a web-native, multi-media documentary project charting everyday life in the Dadaab refugee camp, located in eastern Kenya, on the border of Somalia. Using videos, poetry and music, Dadaab Stories provides a platform for refugees to tell their own stories to the world in their own voices.

Supported by the Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund and the Ford Foundation, this project aims to increase public understanding of refugee lives, forge a deeper connection between the refugee community and the outside world, offer a platform for creative expression and document the history of the refugee experience.

Personal stories are the central part of the project – a record of the extraordinary experiences of the refugees in Dadaab, and a powerful advocacy platform for ongoing international attention to the region. But the project does not only focus exclusively on the darker aspects of life in the camps. Dadaab is a living place and the people in it live their lives and dreams just like anywhere else.

We hope you enjoy this special preview from FilmAid’s Dadaab Stories. If it inspires you with a spirit of generosity this holiday season, we thank you for supporting our work, projecting hope and making change for refugees and other displaced communities:

Emmanuel Jal takes Peace Campaign to Kakuma

Emmanuel Jal visited Kakuma Refugee Camp in partnership with FilmAid International on September 28, during his international We Want Peace Tour. Former Sudan war child and refugee, now hip-hop star and activist, Emmanuel’s visit held special resonance for the international star and his audience. In Kakuma, Jal recorded “Yei,” a song about overcoming struggles and getting through the difficult situations.  Created by Silverstone and Jal, the performance featured talented refugee music artists from Kakuma and will be launched internationally with FilmAid International in November. Jal also recorded a music video of one of his hit singles in the beautiful scenery of Kakuma with the help of FilmAid’s student filmmakers. “I am extremely amazed by the great talent in the camp ranging from filmmaking and singing to dancing, and I loved being able to collaborate with them and inspire them through my own experiences,” said Jal.

As part of his We Want Peace Tour, the soft-spoken peace ambassador had an opportunity to speak with the South Sudanese communities at the camp, promoting peace and the importance of entrepreneurism, which he feels is lacking among young people in the community. Jal also engaged the elders in a panel discussion on ways to finding lasting peace in Sudan and the possibility of repatriation for the Sudanese community in Kakuma. As an advocate of women’s rights, Jal pledged funds to the education of women and girls in the Sudan.

On Saturday September 28, Emmanuel Jal and traditional and contemporary dance groups and musical artists treated audiences of many different nationalities in Kakuma to electric performances. The crowds stood through the entire performance, enjoying hit after hit from Jal singing alongside his sister, Nyaruach and his other backup singer Nyamal. Nyaruach and Nyamal traveled from Dadaab refugee camp to be a part of the concert.

As a witness to the atrocities of Sudan’s second civil war and having been a child soldier himself, Emmanuel now uses music to tell his story and advocate for peace. The We Want Peace campaign aims to “raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality, unification and conflict prevention.” Following his time in Kakuma, Jal took the We Want Peace Tour to Johannesburg, where he performed and spoke at the One Young World Summit in alongside Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Yunes Mohamed and Bob Geldof. Later this month he will travel to Zambia for a community and school tour in Lusaka.

At FilmAid we are often fortunate to meet individuals who have incredible and unbelievable stories. Occasionally we get to work with someone who has truly seen the darkest parts of humanity only to emerge empowered and motivated to advocate for social justice and human rights. These inspiring individuals are everywhere and all deserve to have their stories told and their voices heard. We are glad to support Emmanuel Jal’s We Want Peace Tour in Kenya.