Kenya’s movie locations potential still untapped


Dec. 2, 2017, 1:36 p.m.

For more than half a century, Kenya’s natural landscape has graced the international

celluloid’s silver screen. Some of the earliest films shot locally include the 1950s epic

production King Solomon's Mines.

Starring Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger, the movie went on to scoop two Oscar

Academy Awards later in 1951 for the Best Cinematography Colour and the Best Film

Editing categories.

This was closely followed by shooting and production of the film Snows of Kilimanjaro

(1952) featuring stars Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Ava Gardner.

A year later, yet another crew pitched tent in Kenya to shot Mogambo (1953) which

was directed by John Ford.

The film’s cast included veteran movie stars Clarke Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly

and Donald Sinden.

Though Snows of Kilimanjaro did not win any honours, Mogambo received the Golden

Globe accolades for Grace Kelly’s role as the Best Supporting Actress.

In the subsequent years after the 1960s, a string of numerous successive Box Office

hits have also been shot on location in different parts of the country.

Some of the stunning cinematography captured on these films, bears testimony of the

country’s incredible wealth of breathtaking and captivating scenery.

It was not until three decades later after shooting of Out of Africa (1985) that Kenya

made it yet again onto the roll of honour at the Oscars.

The film directed by Sydney Pollack starring Meryl Street alongside Robert Redford

– scooped a record seven Oscar awards including Best Cinematography and Best

Director category awards.

Other outstanding productions filmed locally include Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in

Africa – 2001) and Constant Gardner (2005), which went on to also scoop several

nominations at the Oscars. 

Whereas the number of movies shot in the country has been on the decline over

recent years, the country still lags behind in terms of being a sought after film


This is in comparison to other regions across the continent such as South Africa and

Egypt. Yet the basis of past success can still serve as a yardstick to project on possible

unexplored avenues.

Hence these prospects could be tapped to contribute towards injecting a much need

boost for the tourism sector.

According to a research study commissioned by the Kenya Wildlife Service a couple of

years ago, the findings underscored the role of films in marketing Kenya as a tourist


The respondents cited watching the popular blockbuster movie Lion King as the

reason why they chose to visit the country.

On the whole, there was a general agreement in the local tourism sector that the

impact of the film ultimately sustained a steady flow of tourists for almost a decade.

This incidentally was at a time when major film producers steered off Kenya owing to

poor government policies on film licensing.

Similarly, there are indications the choice of local locations to shoot documentaries

predominantly aired on the National Geographical series – has achieved success by

maintaining focus, albeit minimal on the country among potential, first-time tourists.

It is however indisputable that Kenya’s potential as a prime movie making destination

is yet to be fully exploited.

 2 months, 3 weeks ago