We at Rolling Lens absolutely love documentaries. Out of all the kinds of creative videos being produced, documentaries are unique in that they are firmly grounded in reality. And yet, we as videographers have unlimited leeway to express our creativity through the way each visual story is told.
Obviously, since documentaries are grounded in reality, no one knows a country’s reality better than those who are born and raised there. So no one knows Kenya better than Kenyans.
However, familiarity can often breed contempt. It sometimes takes someone from the outside, someone with a fresh set of eyes, to see and capture what we as locals may take for granted. Regardless of motive, videographers and filmmakers from outside Kenya are uniquely placed to give us glimpses of their own perspectives that are worth appreciating.
And thus we thought it was worth sharing the best 3 Kenyan video documentaries by non-Kenyans that we know of.
We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.
1. Feel the Sounds of Kenya by Cee-Roo
Even though it has no dialogue, this first video documentary is an absolute masterpiece. It remains unparalleled ever since it was made.
Perhaps the most distinctive element of Feel the Sounds of Kenya is the excellent attention to detail with which the sound design was done. Real singing and sounds are blended into a sound track that was specifically made for the documentary. The visual editing was then impeccably done to the music. There are brilliant transitions, striking color-grading, moments of quietness, and just the right amount of slow-motion action to tie together an amazing visual journey.
There isn’t a single moment of boredom on the entire video. Kudos to Cee-Roo for painting Kenya in the best light we’ve ever seen.
2. The Bowl by Peter McKinnon
We’ve been huge fans of Peter McKinnon, way before he blew up. His storytelling style is one that we gravitate to, so we were thrilled to discover that he once shot a documentary in Kenya.
It was shot for World Vision Kenya, which means a certain amount of poverty imagery is inevitable, but he really did his best to make the video about something positive: resilience. He sandwiched the lowest part of the story in a vibrant beginning and a hopeful end. His signature drone shots and masked transitions between scenes make for a an enjoyably smooth-flowing documentary.
3. Kenya | Trip of a Lifetime by MrBrynnorth
This last one is admittedly touristy, if that’s a word. But it does show an indispensable side of Kenya. The wildlife and geography shots are both panoramic and immersive. We think it’s as good as it gets if a foreigner is looking to travel to Kenya on safari and would like to get a sense of what it might be like.
So those are our best 3 Kenyan video documentaries made by non-Kenyans. What do you think of them? And have you come across any that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Keep the lens rolling.