A Focus on Chiaka Desmond, founder and editor of Film Biz Africa Magazine

Chiaka Desmond, whose pan-African identity has shaped her vision of the world of cinema, is co-founder and editor of Film Biz Africa Magazine. She talks about her evolution into this world that she realized very early was where she wanted to be.

You are the co-founder and editor of Film Biz Africa Magazine, the bi-monthly print and online film/media business magazine. Talk a bit about your background and how you became interested in the world of cinema.

I was born in Nigeria, raised in Ethiopia and lived in Kenya for seven years and six months. My life has been an amalgamation of cultures. I believe being exposed to so many cultures made me very open minded and aroused my curiosity in the world of cinema as I also believe film has a way of preserving culture and will forever be intertwined with culture. 

I love how you can go to a whole other world just through watching a film. 

I also studied Broadcast Journalism at the United States International University in Kenya. One of the courses we did was called ‘Television and Film Production’.

Our teacher, Mr. Sylvester Mutua really opened up our minds to the critical role cinema plays in our society and one of the challenges each of us was given was to produce a forty-page script for adaptation to film. For the first time in my life, I became so imaginative and unleashed a Pandora’s box of creativity I never knew I had in me. 

I also did my undergraduate internship at Film Studios Kenya, (one of the oldest film production companies in Kenya). The lights, the cameras, the sound equipment, the cranes, the gibs, the dollies and the studios were so huge and exciting that I knew what I wanted in my life from the very day I set foot at the film studios.

African women in cinema play various roles, as filmmakers, producers, actresses, in technical roles, organizers, curators, critics, and well, film magazine editors. What inspired you to create Film Biz Africa?

As I said earlier, I fell in love with cinema the first day I set foot at Film Studios Kenya, but I realized, all throughout my college years, I never had access to any books or magazines on African cinema, not even blogs or websites! 

So, after my four-month internship at Film Studios (on the set of the Patricia Show), I found myself armed with a B.A Degree in Broadcast Journalism, but jobless and idle. If there’s anything I hate in this world is being idle, so I decided to start writing. I’d interview people for the fun of it, go for events and before you knew it, I had a magazine dummy ready for Kenya’s film industry. After I shared my concept with my father, he told me to expand it to cover the whole continent because there wasn’t any magazine that really covers Africa’s film industry well, so I took up the challenge and today, I have no regrets!

Your organization is part of an extensive social media network, such as Facebook and Twitter. What role do you see social media playing in the promotion of African cinema.

In my opinion, social media is becoming the nucleus of marketing. If you have a film, or any product for that matter these days and you are not active on social media, I’m afraid you may have made your product for yourself and your friends! 

You are based in Kenya, could you talk a bit about the reception of the Magazine in both Kenya and across Africa?

I honestly thank God for the time I had in Kenya. I lived there from January 2006-September 2013. Kenyans are good people, forget the negative news you hear about Kenya, it’s a great country full of innovative and creative young people. I had so much support from the locals, and speaking Swahili only made things easier for me. 

The magazine was so well received in Kenya, that at a point I had more Kenyan readers than any other country. 

How does the magazine interface with Kenyan cinema culture?

I believe Film Biz Africa has been one of the biggest promoters of Kenyan and East African cinema of all time. We did features on so many celebrities, organized thousands of photo-shoots, did a number of events, brought investors to the industry (through our event the Africa Media Business Exchange), and still plan to do a lot more in Kenya. 

The Film Biz Africa Magazine plans to Celebrate African women in Cinema with the October 2013 issue, why do you think this celebration is important?

Firstly, October is a month where a lot of women-centered campaigns go on. Throughout my career at Film Biz Africa, I realized there was more men than women producing films in the continent, yet, the few African female producers, scriptwriters, are so brilliant at what they do but are rarely celebrated. This October issue is a special issue that will celebrate as many African female producers, Scriptwriters, Directors and the likes. 

Future initiatives of Film Biz Africa? 

Good news for West Africa, we’re setting shop there in a few weeks time! Good news for South Africa too, we’re also setting shop there soon! We’re also going online, mobile, and TV.

We at film Biz Africa believe we have no limits, we want to say, we came, we saw and we conquered, and trust me, we will. 

Interview with Chiaka Desmond by Beti Ellerson, August 2013.

Normandie Farm Pouch by Eric Ewing

This bag was made for a farmer in Normandy, France to use in what they refer to as "broadcasting", basically to hold the seeds as they sow the fields they have plowed.While this isn't a shot pouch, or meant to accompany a firearm, I made it using the same techniques and materials I have been using, only increasing the size, which is about 13" wide x 12" tall.  The body and strap are made from vegetable tan cowhide with pigskin binding.  The inside is lined with a lightweight browned linen. The bag was dyed with different shades of red and brown until I had a finish I found pleasing.  On the back, there is a loop between strap attachments to hang a tool or knife etc, and on the straps themselves there are numerous large holes punched to enable the hanging of other tools and objects if desired.  For the designs (stitched on the bag and burned onto the buckle) I drew inspiration from sources including the Bayeaux Tapestry, and similar Norman inspired motifs wherever I could find them. Where the front of the bag was pierced, exposing the linen fabric underneath, the linen was waterproofed by melting and heating beeswax.  The entire bag was treated with neatsfoot oil which made the leather very soft and pliable.

Copy and photos supplied by Eric Ewing.

Carved and Painted Poplar Spoon Rack

Probably New Jersey, 1750-1800 
H. 23 in.; W. 9 in.

Retains vestiges of what appears to be the original red, white and blue paint. The color of the red suggests that it is probably vermillion, the more expensive imported red available. (as opposed to the less expensive domestic iron oxide usually used on flat surfaces) The surface of the front has been scrubbed ---probably due to regular cleaning during use. Retains four of its original rose-head nails. There is a crack from the top, down the central hanging area about 3 inches long and a crack down the right shoulder about 7 inches long

Copy and photos from Live Auctioneers.

2013 CLA Show: Photos

Photos by Ron and Sharon Brimer.


Got ready for Friday night out. Enjoyed spending it with Mr.Handsome walking down the streets of Zagreb. Got a lot of photos, but that's for my next post.

I was wearing H&M store on myself. H&M leather leggings, H&M sweater, H&M platforms and H&M underwear. Seems I'm addicted to H&M. 


FEATURED BOOK: A Place of Refuge by Janet Lee Barton

A Hero from Her Past 
If Kathleen O'Bryan were capable of trusting any man, it might be someone like Luke Patterson. She never expected to be reunited with the man that rescued her last summer. But when she arrives at Mrs. Heaton's boardinghouse, seeking refuge, it's the handsome writer who greets her at the door. 
Something about the lovely Irish immigrant stirs Luke's protective instincts. Life in New York's harsh tenements hasn't dimmed Kathleen's tender spirit. Day by day, Luke feels the walls around his heart crumble. But it will take faith on Kathleen's side, too, and the heart's power to recognize a real home at last….

Aljazeera - Witness - The Bag on my Back, a documentary film by Tapiwa Chipfupa (Zimbabwe)

Newly-liberated with productive farms and an education system that was the envy of its neighbours, Zimbabwe in the early 1980s was a land of plenty.
Within one person's childhood all that changed.
Filmmaker Tapiwa Chipfupa returns to the country of her birth to understand why the catastrophe happened.
Guided by a box of old family photographs and phone calls to her parents who are in exile in the UK, she traces the story of her family's life across Zimbabwe and the parallel story of the decline and collapse of the country.
Told from the perspective of a middle class African, this is a story of remembrance, of coming to terms with exile and change, and a reminder of the need to guard and protect hard-won freedoms.
Tapiwa Chipfupa: "The film was very challenging for me because it was a deeply personal and emotional journey. It was difficult to accept that none of my family were there and to see what had happened to the places where I grew up, to see what has become of the country of my childhood. But it was very rewarding in the sense that, like so many others, I had reached a place of acceptance with what it is today and had somehow forged a way forward."

Read in its entirety at Aljazeera.com
Image and text source: Aljazeera.com

Pipe Ax by Brian Anderson

inlaid pipe axe with a curley ash handle

Copy and photos supplied by Brian Anderson.

Powder Horn by John Gaeckle

The phrases on the horn are: "May God make me fast and accurate" and "The hunter shoots the deer in flight".

Copy and photos supplied by John Gaeckle.

"On the Trails of the Iroquois" Exhibit at the Bundeskunsthalle

Manfred Schmitz has been able to acquire a limited license from the Bundeskunsthalle office for the use of these images until August 31, 2013 at which time they will be delete from Contemporary Makers Blog.

The posts can be seen here

Enjoy all these images while available. The copy will remain, but all visuals will be deleted. The image of the Longhouse will remain as will images from the Facebook page of the Brundeskunsthalle.


The Craftie Ladies would like to set aside Fridays to acknowledge and celebrate the good things that are happening in our lives and we hope that you will join in and tell us about the blessings you have encountered as well.

Berlin Reads - and We Join in

Berlin's International Literature Festival opens on Wednesday, 4 September. It features the usual festival-type smorgasbord of writers from around the world, with a couple of interesting themes such as cultures of aging and women's sexuality on paper.

Anyway, the festival has had a slightly controversial reputation in the past. One of the ways it manages to survive on its budget is by tapping into readers' raw enthusiasm. So they had a programme which consisted of normal Berliners looking after the visiting writers in exchange for free tickets, for example, and of course the seemingly inevitable army of unpaid interns. This year (and I believe last year as well) they have a special pre-festival section called "Berlin liest".

Again, the thing consists of people doing something for free. But we're doing it anyway because we're like that (and let's face it, most of the readings I've ever done have been for free). We'll be reading at 4 p.m. on 4 September at St George's Bookshop in Prenzlauer Berg. Other people (see the link above) are reading out in the open in public places, but that was a step too far for me, frankly.

Here's our particular agenda:

Isabel Cole will be reading from Annemarie Schwarzenbach's All the Roads Are Open.
Karen Margolis will be reading two classical Chinese poems from The Land of the Five Flavours.
I'll be reading from Tilman Rammstedt's The King of China.
Lucy Renner-Jones will be reading from Silke Scheuermann's "Lisa and the Heavenly Bodies".

The translations are all our own work. Mine is a sneak preview, as the book's not quite out yet.

The Rest Will Fall into Place: Goethe Medal to Naveen Kishore

Yesterday the Seagull Books publisher Naveen Kishore was awarded the Goethe Medal in Weimar. The honour is bestowed on people outside of Germany who do very special things to promote German culture and international dialogue.

A group of us Seagull translators went along to the ceremony. I think most of us would have liked it better if there'd been fewer politicians quoting Goethe and more of the excellent music, but then came the proper speeches and they were delightful. Naveen was honoured alongside the Iranian translator Mahmoud Hosseini Zad and the Greek writer and translator Petros Markaris, both of whom made a very passionate and intelligent impression. Elisabeth Ruge held a Laudatio in praise of Naveen, comparing him to a bricoleur and eulogising the Seagull catalogues designed by Sunandini Banerjee – thus proving that she's the coolest dude in German publishing right now, as I have long suspected (especially since she announced she'll soon be leaving German publishing).

And then Naveen held his speech, which you can read in this pdf. It's delightful and you really should spend ten minutes of your life with it. He explains his approach to publishing (he's not the kind of man who'd call it a philosophy, I suspect): intuition, working hard, appreciating culture, doing things as they have to be done, subjectively. Publishing books not because they will make money (although they might, over time) but because someone out there will want to read them. The rest will fall into place.

There wasn't time and space yesterday to tell Naveen how much I – and I know my fellow Seagull translators feel similarly – appreciate what Naveen and everyone at Seagull do. They are a joy to work with, making us feel part of a family, welcoming us into their beautiful office and their wonderful catalogue. They hold our work up high, as high as they hold their authors. And their authors are some of the best there are. I mean more than just printing our names on their book covers, although that of course is second nature to them. I mean treating and editing us with respect, trusting our judgement and instincts, sharing our passions.

I first met Naveen and Sunandini at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009. I knew they were doing some amazing German books and I told them how impressed I was and then asked rather shyly, "I suppose you don't need any more translators, do you?" Yes! they said, and they took my card and admired it and I later received an email asking me what I'd like to translate: "Send me your wish-list." That was the point at which I realised Naveen was a long way from a traditional publisher; at times I've called him an anti-publisher, analogue to the antichrist, the antihero, the antidote. I don't think he'd like to be a hero but I hope he'd like to be an antidote.

Since then I've translated seven books for Seagull, not all of which are yet available. Some of them we've chosen together; some I have suggested; in two cases I knew they'd acquired the rights and I asked if I could translate them. I was invited to India with two of my Seagull writers and looked after and cared for by the Seagull team. Today Naveen sent me the cover design for a very special book that I translated for them: Christa Wolf's last short story, "August". It's beautiful, as to be expected from Sunandini Banerjee, and will be available early next year. I never dreamed I would translate Christa Wolf, and it was a great pleasure and honour to do so. And as I'm so pleased and proud and happy, I shall break my no pictures rule and post it here, because that's what Naveen Kishore and Seagull have taught me: that breaking the rules is sometimes the best thing to do.

Thank you, Naveen.

Jeff Cline Knife

Photographed at the 2013 Lake Cumberland Show by Jan Riser.