Published February 29, 2012
A film project that debuted in pitch form at Durban FilmMart in 2011 has received international acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival’s Talent Campus for its innovative and distinctive African storyline.
The Boda Boda Thieves, a collaboration between South African producer James Tayler and South Africa-based Kenyan producer Sarah Muhoho, won the Highlight Pitch Award courtesy of the VFF (the German licensing agency for film and television producers) during the festival’s Talent Project Market, a three-day summit for emerging filmmakers.
Taylor and Muhoho were Talents at the festival’s Talent Campus which offers young producers and director’s hands-on training and the opportunity to present their film projects to experienced co-producers and financiers through various programmes.
The Boda Boda Thieves was chosen as one of the 10 projects to participate in the Talent Project Market – the only African film project in this year’s selection – and was awarded first place by an international jury for a public pitch done by Muhoho. The film project also received a ‘special mention’ for another coveted award, the International relations ARTE prize, which recognises excellence in script-writing of the film projects.
“The competition was tough and I feel very honoured and also deeply humbled by the support we have received in telling our uniquely African story on an international stage,” said Muhoho who accepted the €10,000 prize money.
The Boda Boda Thieves tells the East African tale about a poverty-stricken family from Kampala, Uganda, that supports themselves through meagre earnings driving a motorcycle taxi, also known as a “boda-boda”.
At Durban FilmMart, the film was awarded the CineMart Rotterdam Lab Award courtesy of the International Film Festival of Rotterdam. The award granted Tayler the opportunity to attend CineMart 2012, the world’s oldest and largest coproduction and finance film market which takes place during the festival. Muhoho came on board as a co-producer doing this period, bringing with her expertise as well as technical equipment.
The film project has since received funding from South Africa’s National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the World Cinema Fund, the Hubert Bals Fund and the Global Film Initiative, an acknowledgement of great potential said Durban Film Office head Toni Monty.
“This film is a prime example that African cinema is coming of age through recognition and admiration from an international audience,” said Monty.
The script for The Boda Boda Thieves was initially developed during a workshop hosted by the International Three Continents Documentary and Film Festival held in Nantes, France in November 2010. The film was also invited to the Tarifa African Film Festival in Spain to pitch at the ‘Africa Produce’ forum in June 2011.
Production of the project will take place in the coming months with casting, location scouting as well as script development and refinement already underway. “We have had experiences that have presented the perfect opportunities to expand the network and reach of our film, now it’s up to us to make the best film we can,” said Tayler who divulged that he had made contacts and genuine friendships from around the world.
Both Tayler and Muhoho have both been ‘overwhelmed’ at support and interest of the film, and have received favourable reviews at the film’s originality and authenticity of the story as well as the characters involved. Both producers and the film’s director Donald Mugisha of Uganda, are passionate about creating and developing content for African Cinema – which they believe expresses a “proud identity of humanity, heritage and culture”.
“We hope to bring to life a great African story and also be part of impacting the local industry by sharing our skills as a collective from different countries by sharing our vibrant and unique narrative voice,” said Muhoho.
Peter Rorvik, director of the Centre for Creative Arts and the Durban International Film Festival encourages local filmmakers to participate in film developmental initiatives, which “opens doors and provides a world of possibilities” for film projects. Said Rorvik; “We are very excited and proud when African stories succeed and make it to the big screen, it is evidence that Africa filmmakers are world-class competitors.”
The 3rd edition of Durban FilmMart takes place July 20-23, 2012 during the Durban International Film Festival and is open for documentary and fiction project submissions.