By Iminza Keboge
Published May 25, 2016
A script-writing Residency has selected five emerging African screenwriters for nurturing and cultivating their talent as authentic voices in African cinema.
Urucu Media says the selected writers will participate in its REALNESS programme that will begin with an immersive industry experience at Durban FilmMart, a finance and co-production market that runs in South Africa June 17-20, 2016.
“This will be followed by six weeks at the Nirox Artists’ Residency in the Cradle of Humankind, where they will be given the time and space to develop drafts of their screenplays under the guidance of some of the industry’s top professionals,” Urucu Media says. “The most promising project will be selected and funded to participate in the prestigious La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde in Cannes, receive an EAVE Producers’ Workshop Scholarship, and be invited to Torino Film Lab Meetings.”
The five selected screenwriters who Urucu Media says were selected from a pool of 175 applicants from 29 countries are Amirah Tajdin (Kenya), Hiwot Admasu Getaneh (Ethiopia), Luke Razanajaona (Madagascar), Sheetal Magan (South Africa) and Wim Steytler (South Africa).
Urucu Media describes Tajdin as “a Kenyan artist and filmmaker whose work in the short form has screened at numerous festivals across the world, including Sundance and Cannes Director’s Fortnight. She currently splits her time between Africa and the Middle East, doing freelance commercial directing and working on her cinematic projects. She will be developing her project HAWA HAWAII during REALNESS, a feature film that tells the story of a Swahili wedding singer in Mombasa who struggles to reconcile his relationship with his mother, and his alter ego as a Bollywood-inspired drag performer.”
Getaneh “took up her passion of filmmaking full time after she completed her B.Sc in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and has since screened work at international festivals including Venice and Toronto. She will be developing her film A FOOL GOD, in which 11-year-old Mesi, in a moment of tragedy, confronts the limitations of her gender within traditional life, compelling her to leave school and explore new ways of being in the company of a ‘slow-minded’ former life guard.”
Razajaona “has participated in a number of prestigious programmes, including Berlinale and La Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde, and a residency with acclaimed screenwriter Oliver Gorce. He recently won the Step Fund Prize at Luxor African Film Festival. He will be working on his film DISCO AFRICA, about a clandestine sapphire miner who comes to know his father through a stack of West African Afro Beat 45 records that allow him to relive the exhilarating optimism of 1970s post-independence Africa.”
Magan “is an emerging South African talent who was recently named one of five ‘creatives to watch’ by City Press. She was selected to participate in Cannes South Africa Factory to make PARAYA, one of four short films to open the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2016. Her interests are in both experimental and dramatic storytelling. She will be developing her first feature film, THE DAY AND NIGHT OF BRAHMA, which is a layered portrait of domestic life in which a modern Indian couple are drawn into deeper questions of love and self-sacrifice by the event of their first pregnancy.”
Steytler “hails from a family of pioneering writers and has been mentored by some of South Africa’s top directors. His narrative music video about xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg won him the prestigious CFP-E/SHOTS Young Director Award at Festival de Cannes. He was also awarded Best Director at the 2015 Silwerskerm Film Festival. His film UITLANDER follows the events of a misfit South African farmer who falls into a Doomsday cult after he meets a mysterious new-age, French couple following the death of his best friend.”
Urucu Media, that says it presents REALNESS “under the mentorship of Berlinale Talents, in partnership with Nirox Foundation, Durban Filmmart, Restless Talent Management, The French Institute of South Africa and Institute Français’s La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde, Torino Film Lab, EAVE and World Cinema Fund”, describes itself as “a forward-looking company that envisions a future in which African storytelling occupies a central space in the international arena.”
It further says it conceived REALNESS “as a way of addressing a need for promising African film projects to be resourced and supported in the development phase in order to be competitive on the global film market.”