The Africa First short film program is sponsored by Focus Features, and will award five (5) emerging African filmmakers $10,000.00 (ten thousand U.S. dollars) each towards pre-production, production, or post-production of their short film. Applications must be fully completed and RECEIVED BY September 3rd, 2010; recipients will be notified by October 2010.
Filmmakers who receive funding are also granted the unique opportunity to network with the Focus Features Africa First Advisory Board, an international panel of experts in African Cinema. Selected filmmakers will attend an intensive workshop with the Advisors in New York City.
The Board members are:
Mahen Bonetti is the founder and Executive Director of African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF), a non-profit arts organization founded in 1990. AFF showcases works of African filmmakers and develops ways to share the vision and culture of African film with American and international audiences. In her role as film liaison, she contributes to an interdisciplinary mix of panels and programs, including those established by the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ougadougou (FESPACO), the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the New York State Council of the Arts, UNDP, Africa's US diplomatic offices and the Rolex Arts Initiative Awards. AFF collaborates each year with the Film Society of Lincoln Center and BAMcinĂ©matek to produce the annual New York African Film Festival. Additionally, the organization curates a series of other film programs with a host of national and international partners. Ms. Bonetti lives in Manhattan with her husband and their daughter.
Jihan El-Tahri is an award winning writer, documentary film director and producer. El- Tahri, an Egyptian and French national, started her working career as a journalist. Between 1984 and 1990 she worked as a news agency correspondent and TV researcher covering Middle East politics. In 1990 she began directing and producing documentaries for French television, The BBC and other international broadcasters. El-Tahri has directed more than a dozen films including the Emmy nominated The House of Saud, which explores the Saudi/ US relations through the portraits of the Kingdom's monarchs. The Price of Aid, which won the European Media prize in 2004, examined who really benefits from system of International food aid. Her most recent documentary Cuba: An African Odyssey, which recounts the untold story of Cuba's support for African revolutions, has received awards in France and Canada. El-Tahri has also written 2 books titled "The 9 Lives of Yasser Arafat" and "Israel and the Arabs: the 50 years war" published by Penguin.
Jihan El-Tahri is also engaged in various associations and institutions working with African cinema. She is currently the treasurer of the Guild of African filmmakers in the Diaspora and she was elected in 2004 as one of the regional secretaries of the Federation of Pan African Cinema (FEPACI).
June has worked in film and broadcasting for many years and is regarded as a knowledgeable resource person for Black and African cinema. She worked at the British Film Institute for 8 years where she ran the African Caribbean Unit from the mid 1980s to the mid-1990s and launched the quarterly Black Film Bulletin, tracking and reviewing the development of black film. She also edited the book Symbolic Narratives/African Cinema, which reported on the major African cinema conference held as part of the Screen Griot programme of 10 projects celebrating African cinema, organized by the Unit in 1995. More generally, June worked as a film and television programme consultant for over 20 years specializing in African and black film internationally, working with festivals, and events and writing about film and television. She was one of the team of programmers of the Toronto International Film Festival for four years, programming Planet Africa. Her programming work has necessarily involved introducing new film talent to the industry and to audiences. She has worked in production, including A Dry White Season, directed by Euzhan Palcy and assisted recently on the shoot of Palcy's latest film, Les Mariees de l'isle Bourbon. June has been involved in selecting film projects for development awards both in the UK (Arts Council, B3 Media) and the USA (Rockefeller Foundation). She has recently worked with'Break Out', and'The Feature Lab', in the UK to identify potential writing and directing talent for these script development projects. June also worked in television programme regulation in the UK for 7 years.
Clarence trained as a filmmaker at Ryerson Polytechnic (now University), the premier training institute for filmmakers and broadcast journalists in Toronto, Canada, and graduated with a Bachelor in Applied Arts (Film) in 1990. Since his return to SA in 1992, Clarence has gained extensive experience as a writer, director, and executive producer in the film and television industry. Clarence also worked as head-writer on the first season of TAKALANI SESAME, a South African adaptation of the US-originated Sesame Street. He was co-creator of the first GAZLAM, a thirteen part HIV drama and worked as head writer for season 3 of SOUL BUDDYZ, an educational family drama series conceived by Soul City. In 2005 Clarence became co-project leader with Alby James and Philip Roberts in Sediba, a feature film and television script development program of the NFVF. During this period he has mentored script editor trainees and supervised the development of four feature scripts to first draft and five ground-breaking mini-series, among them adaptations of Shakespeare, all commissioned by the SABC. In 2007 Clarence joined the National Film and Video Foundation and in April 2009 was appointed head of Production and Development. Clarence continues his work in Sediba.
Sharifa Johka is an independent producer with a strong background in feature film development, acquisitions, and co-production financing. Johka began her professional career working in Acquisitions & Co-Productions at New Line Cinema/Fine Line Features. She was responsible for tracking film projects in all stages of development and production for financing and worldwide distribution consideration.
As an independent producer, Johka has credits that span the mediums of both film and broadcast television, including the charming romantic comedy, THE SEAT FILLER, directed by Nick Castle (DENNIS THE MENACE, MAJOR PAYNE) and executive produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Additional television credits include TEEN SUMMIT, LYRIC CAFĂ, and DADDY'S GIRL.
Johka is also the Founder of AFRICAN VOICES Cinema Series (AVCS), a media arts organization that is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of African and African-American films as well as filmmakers of the African Diaspora. In this role, Johka has produced programs in the US, Nigeria, and South Africa. Most recent, AFRICAN VOICES presented AFRICANA!, a television series for BET, for which Johka served as the Executive Producer.
Ms. Johka is a highly sought after lecturer who has conducted production and screenwriting workshops around the world. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she attended the prestigious School of Cinematic Arts and received a Student Academy Award for her compelling documentary THE MIRROR LIED. In addition, she is a J. Paul Getty Arts Fellowship recipient, a working member of Film Independent (FIND) and serves on the Advisory Board for their mentoring program, Project: Involve.
Pedro has become one of the major players in film co-production in Southern Africa. He started his film career with the National Film Institute of Mozambique in 1977, and co-founded EBANO Multimedia, the first independent production company in Mozambique, which established itself as a significant entity in audio-visual production in the region. Between 1997 and 2003, Pedro was the Chief Technical Adviser of the UNESCO Zimbabwe Film & Video Training Project for Southern Africa in Harare. As part of his role he conceived and managed various training programs in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia. He is one of the founders of AVEA (Audio Visual Entrepreneurs of Africa), which runs an annual professional training program for producers in Southern Africa. He is currently the Director of DOCKANEMA - The Maputo Documentary Film Festival.
Keith Shiri is the Zimbabwean founder/director of Africa at the Pictures, a festival of African cinema based in London. He has taught African cinema at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and the American University in Richmond. He has served on a number of international film festival juries including the Tampere Film Festival in Finland, the Pan African Film Festival in California, the Fespaco Festival in Burkina Faso, the Cape Town World Film Festival, Festival Cinema Africano in Milan and the Berlin International Film Festival. He currently sits on the steering committee of the Independent Film Parliament (UK) and Vertigo Magazine. He is a program advisor to the Times London Film Festival, and served in that position to the Venice Film Festival from 2004 - 2005. He was also a member of the jury of the Berlin World Cinema Fund from 2004 - 2007. Publications include Africa on Film (BBC Publications 1991) and Directory of African Films and Filmmakers (Flicks Books 1993).
2008 AWARD RECIPIENTS
EDOUARD BAMPORIKI | RWANDA
Edouard Bamporiki is an award-winning filmmaker, actor and poet. As young Rwandan artist, Edouard has received national and international attention for his stories of hope, unity and reconciliation. Edouard was born in a small village in the Western province, educated in Rwandan schools, and lives in the capitol city of Kigali. He wrote, directed, acted, and produced Long Coat.
JENNA BASS | SOUTH AFRICA
Jenna Bass is a graduate (2007) of AFDA film school, Cape Town. At 22 years old she has worked as a director, writer, cinematographer, photographer and magician. She has directed over ten short films, and seven music videos. Her video, Hold The Sorrow, was accepted into the 2008 ViMus International Music Video Festival. Her 25min film, The Tunnel, was selected for the Focus Features Africa First Program and was completed this year. Her work has run the spectrum of sci-fi (So Long to the City), experimental (Jellyfish), teenage coming of age (Already Gone) and historical magical realism (The Tunnel). She is currently developing her first feature length projects: 5.6 Second of White Noise (a multi-narrative following a group of teenagers in the 1994 club scene of Durban), Tok Tokkie (a supernatural thriller about ghost-welfare inspectors) and Flat Land (a surreal Karoo-set western). Jenna's singular ambition is to make movies: to create the magic that glows in darkened theaters before blazing out into the real world.
VISIT JENNA'S PROFILE >>
JAN-HENDRIK BEETGE | SOUTH AFRICA
Jan-Hendrik Beetge started his film career by writing and directing his first short-film,'Triomfeer', in 2001. Winning multiple local and international awards for this poignant work, Jan-Hendrik went on to become a television commercials director at several top production companies and has been working as a director and writer ever since. Currently focusing on his love for cinematic narrative, Jan-Hendrik is busy developing several films and has just completed his second short-film called'The Abyss Boys', a beautiful and compelling film about two brothers caught in a world from which they cannot escape. Born out of the simplicity of photography, his strengths lie in his innovative and unique cinematic visuals combined with original but truthful characters within a powerful narrative setting. He describes his style as Cinephotographic Narrative.
DYANA GAYE | SENEGAL
Dyana Gaye was born in Paris in 1975. She majored in Film Studies at Paris 8 - St Denis University in 1998. In 1999, she won the Louis Lumiere-Villa Medicis grant for her script A woman for Souleymane which she directed the following year. Finalist of the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative in 2004, she directed a musical one shot sequence film, Remembering Paris, for the project Paris, la metisse in 2005. In 2006, her film Ousmane received numerous distinctions all over the world and was nominated at the Cesar 2008 (French Academy Awards) for Best Short Film.
WANURI KAHIU | KENYA
In 2008, Wanuri completed her first feature film From A Whisper based on the real life events surrounding the August 7, twin bombings of US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. The film recently won awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture, the Golden Dhow award for Best East African Picture at Zanzibar International Film Festival and Best Film at Kalasha, Kenya Film and TV awards. Shortly after she completed a documentary about the life of Nobel peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai entitled For Our Land (2009) for M-Net'Great Africans' Series. She has recently completed a short Science Fiction Film Pumzi (2009) that was partially funded by Focus Features (part of NBC universal), Goethe Institut and Changa Moto Fund in Kenya.
2009 AWARD RECIPIENTS
STEPHEN ABBOTT | SOUTH AFRICA
Stephen Abbott is a writer, director, photographer and editor. He likes travel, coffee, stories, mountains, movies, music, and some other things.
MATT BISHANGA | UGANDA
Matt Bishanga aims to transform Ugandan filmmakers into great international filmmakers. He speaks excellent English and Dutch and some local languages in Uganda. He's a former student at Makerere University in the school of architecture, which he attended for four years but dropped it in favor for film, which he embarked on in the Netherlands. Matt returned to Uganda in 2005 after 8 years in Holland to set up a media production company that today has produced numerous television commercials, music videos, documentaries and a feature film. He's currently lecturing filmmakers and actors around the country on how to improve their skills. Matt is producing his first feature film, "Battle of the Souls". He assembled an amateur cast and crew to produce what happens to be Uganda's first feature film entirely done by Ugandans. The film has gone on to win very many accolades some of which include, Best East African Film, Best editing, Best achievement in Visual Effects, Best supporting actor etc. This has fueled many Ugandans to start filmmaking which is Matt's goal to ensure that the industry grows so we can tell our stories and improve on tourism.
DAOUDA COULIBALY | MALI
Daouda Coulibaly is a Malian-French director. He started his career in audiovisual editing. Inspired by a traditional tale, A HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE/IL ETAIT UNE FOIS L'INDEPENDANCE is his first short film.
MATTHEW JANKES | SOUTH AFRICA
Matthew Jankes is an aspiring filmmaker born and raised in South Africa. He studied film through the University of Cape Town and the South African School of Motion Picture Medium (AFDA), training in writing, directing and cinematography. In between making short films he directs, shoots and edits music videos. He is currently doing a re-write on a feature length script, with a view to hopefully direct it in mid 2011. He is a big sports fan and his second love, other than movie making, is too argue about politics with anyone who'll listen.
RUNGANO NYONI | ZAMBIA
Rungano Nyoni was born in Lusaka Zambia, Rungano meaning Story or Storyteller in the Shona Tribe. Coming from a theatre background she only started directing films in 2006. Her first film was called'Yande' (My Great Happiness in Bemba), a film she wrote and shot on black and white super 8mm that dealt with the fashion for African Women who westernised their appearance and mannerisms in order to conform to an'ideal'. The narrative was taken from the writings of French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, from his extract,'On the Cannibals'. She draws heavily from Docu-Drama style of Directing and is very actor driven in the way she approaches her filmmaking using a lot of devising and improvisational techniques in her films. Her influences include Shane Meadows, Danny Boyle, Coppolla and Isabelle Huppert. Her favourite films include Festen, The Fall and La Pianiste (the Piano Teacher).