By Ogova Ondego
Published October 16, 2011
Ethiopian Zelalem Woldemariam, Namibian Oshosheni Hiveluah, South African Mark Middlewick, Ghanaian Akosua Adoma Owusu and Burkinabe Cedric Ido are the winners of Africa First Programme for Short Films. Besides receiving US$10,000 each from Focus Features for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa, the winners are expected to visit New York City in November 2011 for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing.
The films the five winners are to direct are ADAMET (Listen), the story of a talented drummer who encounters a deaf woman by Woldemariam; 100 BUCKS, an immersion into
Windhoek, the Namibian capital through the progress of a piece of currency by Hiveluah; LATE NIGHT SECURITY, in which the night guard at a shopping center finds solace and friendship from an unlikely source by Middlewick; KWAKU ANASE, adapting into live action and animation a traditional West African story about a student’s family secret by Owusu; and TWAAGA (Invincible), blending live action and animation in the tale of a boy’s quest to be a superhero by Ido.
Films from Africa First have been showcased at festivals like Sundance, Toronto, and Berlin; the Film Society of Lincoln Centre; and the Museum of the Moving Image.
Africa First, Volume I, a two-hour compilation of short films made by previous filmmakers in the programme, is available on DVD and across VOD and EST platforms.
“I’m continually impressed by the range of great young artists we meet through Africa First; each filmmaker has a distinctive vision and voice, and I look forward to learning from them at our summit,” James Schamus, the Chief Executive Officer of Focus Features says.
Producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle, who serves as programme director of Africa First, adds, “We are particularly proud of the diversity and ambition in this year’s solid group, with new storytellers coming from several countries contributing to the program for the first time.”
While the winning filmmakers retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, Focus Features holds the rights to North America, as well as the right of first negotiation to feature-length expansion productions derived from the shorts.