Netflix, UNESCO search for African filmmakers in $600,000 competition

Netflix and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have partnered to launch an innovative short film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa.

A statement on Thursday said winners of the competition would be trained and mentored by industry professionals and provided with a US$75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an ‘Anthology of African folktales’.

The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg, will open on 14 October until 14 November.

Each of the six winners will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of industry mentors selected by UNESCO & Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the six winners will also receive $25,000.

UNESCO and Netflix said they strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world.

They said they recognised that many emerging filmmakers struggle with finding the right resources and visibility to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers.

Read also: What Ghana must learn from Nigeria to revive movie industry – Jim Iyke

This competition, they said, aimed to address these issues and enable African storytellers to take a first step towards showcasing their content to a global audience.

“One key aim of this competition is to discover new voices and to give emerging filmmakers in Sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale. We want to find the bravest, wittiest, and most surprising retellings of some of Africa’s most-loved folktales and share them with entertainment fans around the world in over 190 countries.

“This partnership will also help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth and it will therefore contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a series of targets established by the United Nations which aims to end global poverty in all its forms by the end of this decade.

“This film competition will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and by guaranteeing dignified working conditions. All of these are key goals within the 2030 Agenda. The competition is open to emerging filmmakers across Sub-Saharan Africa on the theme of ‘African Folktales, Reimagined,'” the statement read.

“It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture and development,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO.

“Growing up, entertainment was how I connected with people. I fell in love with the stories and characters I saw on screen and experienced how storytelling has the power to inspire, which is why I’m excited about this partnership with UNESCO and the opportunities ahead. Together we will promote local cultures and support the creative industries in telling stories that cross borders, reflect universal truths, and ultimately, bring us together,” said Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix.

Also, Ben Amadasun, Director of Content in Africa, Netflix, said, “Africa has a rich storytelling heritage and a wealth of folktales that have been passed down for generations. When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other.”

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