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Beatrice Wangondu
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Beatrice Wangondu


'My Whole Life Journey Led Me To Produce'

Meet Award-Winning Film Producer Beatrice Wangondu.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 17, 2023, 12:03 PM

Photo of

Beatrice Wangondu

Photo by

Beatrice Wangondu
Beatrice Wangondu is a Kenya-based award-winning filmmaker. She produced The Whistleblower which won the Best Short Film, Best Cinematography and Best Editing Awards at the Kalasha Awards in 2019.

Bea as she’s fondly known runs a Nairobi-based television and film production house, The Bea Company. She has extensive experience in both areas.

As part of our coverage of Pavillon Afriques, we caught up with Bea and looked back on her journey, how she knew about Pavillon Afriques and more about her work and the film industry at large.

Thanks for your time. How did you get into film?

The only thing I have ever loved since I was a kid was film and television. It felt natural when I finally found my way into it. When I was in college, I did internships in television and radio and learnt the ropes of both as I tried to figure out where I best fit. 

In between all that, I worked for a local production whose speciality was training in television production and trainees went on to develop television features, feature documentaries, and develop TV formats as well as teamwork. 

What I found out is that something was always pushing me to ‘the next’ thing. It still does. 

I didn't know what it was at the time but I couldn't settle. I am always looking for new challenges so I left the job I was doing and started freelancing as a training film producer in documentary narratives. I only knew a handful of filmmakers in that world at the time with whom I attached myself. 

I developed skills in local and international pitching, won a couple of awards and engaged with a lot of people across the global documentary space. I saw what other people around the world do in film and that opened me up to what film is all about. I came back to Kenya and started freelancing locally while developing independent films.

How did you find your voice and define the stories you want to tell?

My development in the industry was both personal and professional. I discovered my voice on the go. I allowed myself to be introspective even though I didn’t know what I was doing. What I found was my identity that then evolved into my voice.

Why did you choose to be an independent filmmaker?

Finding my identity was a long journey and it had to have literal meaning to my life and that’s how I knew what story to tell. 

Why didn’t I want to work with a production house? 

Alignment is key to filmmaking. Those attached to your works must be married to that project. It means braving all stages of production despite ‘the climate’. It's a rare combination to find.
Image Banner of the film Supastaz. Courtesy: Bea Wangondu
With that said, collaboration has been one of the most effective formats that have catapulted the majority of my work. My other work - Supastaz is a film project that tackles human trafficking in which the GIZ police department, the German embassy, and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI Kenya) collaborated with my producing partner Krysteen Savane and me. It was very successful and one that’s still being screened on the continent.

Supastaz film is very special to me. We worked with children from
Anno's One Fine Day Arts Children's program (AOFD) that’s located in Kibera Kenya.

You’ve worked on projects like The Whistleblower and Supastaz. Why did you pick these storylines?
Banner image of the film 'The Whistleblower'. Courtesy: Bea Wangondu
I am drawn to everything culture, social justice, women and girls. The Whistleblower, made in 2019, is all about the abuse of power and corruption. When the director approached me with the story, I read the first draft and I was in almost immediately. It really hit home. 

Supastaz film is very special to me. We worked with children from low-income communities of Nairobi who every so often are at the forefront of the theme of the film. Each of those kids knew a child that had been kidnapped, had been themselves kidnapped or had kids who never returned. 

How did your engagement with Pavillon Afriques come about and how has it impacted your career?

It is the duty of every filmmaker to keep abreast of their business. So when an industry colleague mentioned Pavillion Afriques to me, I knew I had to plug in immediately. 

It's not every day that you find spaces that accommodate filmmakers, facilitate engagements with filmmakers from the rest of the world and allow them the freedom to be themselves in a market as big as the Cannes Film Festival. Everything and everyone at Cannes is big, intense and almost intimidating so I had to develop a strategy ahead of my arrival. 

I must say that Karine is a pioneer. She has played a major role in the last couple of years in giving Africans a space ‘of their own’. She’s given us a home. If you are in Cannes and it’s raining after your meeting, at least you know where you can go in between meetings. (haha).

Having worked in TV and film, what are the differences between the two?

These two formats are fundamentally different though they both provide entertainment. The scripting structures of both are different, television scripts are episodic and obviously shorter than feature films, they don't require resolution at the end of the episode and they’re dialogue driven.
Why did you choose to work behind the camera? 

My whole life journey led me to produce. To me, producing is the school of life that I needed to embrace. It’s an evolution. It’s the life I chose but it's not anywhere near easy; especially for African filmmakers. 

What challenges do you face as a filmmaker?

Funding is a challenge everywhere but in Africa, the dynamics are very different. While a couple of film funding opportunities are available here and there, the law of demand and supply is wild. So we supplement by fundraising both continentally and internationally. 

In Kenya where I live, we’re still figuring out a local distribution structure in order to fully be in the narrative business. 

In recent days though, we’ve seen a rise of investors who understand the power of entertainment and to who the increase in the number of television and radio is attributed to. Others have an understanding of the Video On Demand distribution format and are now slowly engaging filmmakers on the same.

We’ve also seen the emergence of local corporations that are commissioning films and TV formats and distributing them only within their spheres.

The new administration in Kenya recently established a council that is expected to advocate for the financial and cultural value that the creative economy in Kenya provides. This is a first in Kenya and it’s promising. There’s also been talk of tax rebates (though yet to be tabled in parliament) as well as co-production treaties, with other countries.

This we consider a good indicator for days to come. 

Any additional thoughts?

It is important for us to continue to show up for ourselves and for the industry. To be consistent and persistent.  It’s now on us and we are working with what we have.