Copyright 2001

[ October 12th 2001 ]

Despite being voted 'best film location' at the Los Angeles 2001 Film Expo, Kenya has seen little success in hosting Hollywood productions because of bureaucratic bungling and general laxity. The films were instead lost to aggressive location marketers in South Africa.

South Africa stole the limelight from Kenya for the fourth time recently by winning a bid to host an $85 million Hollywood production called Beyond Borders in February next year. Ghost and the Darkness, The Air up There, I Dreamed of Africa and Hot Zone, with a combined budget of $230 million, were also recent productions previously set to shoot in Kenya.

Robert Redford had planned to film the $70 million movie 'Hot Zone' in Kenya but a government official bungled the deal and cost the country yet another Hollywood production. South Africa won the bid after a representative from the American production company called a Kenyan government official to ask permission to shoot a film about the deadly Ebola virus in Kenya.

The official mistook the word Ebola for Abiola, Nigeria's late presidential hopeful, and refused on the grounds that Kenya was a friend of Nigeria and would not be used to tarnish the name of a country's leader. The official was apparently unaware that Abiola Mashood was never installed as president because military dictator Ibrahim Babangida had cancelled the elections in 1993.

Shooting for 'Beyond Borders' is due to start in Bosnia during the European winter and will move to South Africa by February next year. Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie are billed to star in the love story about two international aid workers who meet in a Somali refugee camp.

Producers had wanted to shoot the film in Kenya because of its scenic beauty, geographical contrasts and the easy availability of extras to play Somali roles. But an insurance delay caused the original stars Kevin Costner and Meg Ryan to opt out and afforded extra time for the South African Film Commission to lobby favour from their Kenyan counterpart.

The only international full feature film shot in Kenya in recent years is the German movie 'Nowhere in Africa', which premieres in Europe next month.

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