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Netflix & UNESCO partner with well-respected African filmmakers to train and mentor emerging filmmaking talent as part of the competition

19 November 2021: Today, Netflix and UNESCO have revealed the selected judges for the ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ competition which has been extended to 28 November for applications. The list comprises leaders in the African film industry, including Nigeria’s Femi Odugbemi, South Africa’s Bongiwe Selane, Leila Afua Djansi from Ghana, David Tosh Gitonga from Kenya, and Jean Luc Herbulot from Congo.

Each of the 6 winners, who will receive $25,000 and a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films will do so under the guidance of these industry mentors selected by UNESCO & Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is compensated. Their films will also premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African folktales”.

More about the Mentors:

Femi Odugbemi is an award-winning Nigerian documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, cinematographer, director, producer and photographer. Femi Odugbemi is a co-founder of the iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival. Femi’s screen credits include starting Nigeria’s longest running daily soap Tinsel, producing the multi-award winning telenovela Battleground (460 episodes), and the daily crime series Brethren (260 episodes), and the recent Movement: Japa all screening across the continent. He has also produced and directed feature films including Maroko (2006), Gidi Blues (2016), 4th Estate (2017) and Code Wilo (2018). He is a recipient of the prestigious lifetime achievement award of the Nigeria Film Corporation. He is a Member of the Board of the Committee for the Relevant Arts (CORA), Director of Freedom Park, Distinguished Fellow of Theatre Arts (FTA), and a recipient of the prestigious lifetime achievement award of the Nigeria Film Corporation. Femi is Founder/Executive Producer of Zuri24 Media Lagos. Download Image.

Bongiwe Selane is an award-winning producer who has produced across several mediums, including commissioned serial content for TV, multiple short films, 2 feature films and a documentary series. Her credits and accolades include a South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA) win for Culture Shock in 2013 for Best Doccie-Reality series, and Best South African Short Film at The Durban International Film Festival in 2015 for uNomalanga and The Witch. Happiness is a Four-Letter Word is her debut feature film which was released in February 2016 and her second feature Happiness Ever After, is currently streaming in 190 countries on Netflix. Bongiwe’s most recent honours include being appointed Overall Chairperson of the South African Film and TV Awards (SAFTA) in 2019 and is an alumni of the Rotterdam Producers Lab, La Fabrique Cinéma de L’Institute Francais (Cannes), Produire au Sud Workshop in Nantes France, and the prestigious Venice Biennale Cinema College. Download Image.

Kenya’s David Tosh Gitonga was introduced to the world of film and worked on his first feature film Dangerous Affair in 2002 as a production assistant. Tosh Gitonga is a director and founder of Primary Picture and was previously the Director and partner at the Kenyan renowned production powerhouse film crew in Africa Limited for 10 years. He directed the award winning films like Nairobi Half Life, which was selected as Kenya’s entry to the 85th Academy awards for best foreign film. Tosh’s latest film, Disconnect (2018) won best Male supporting Actor/ Best Sound and Best Cinematography at the Kalasha Kenya film television awards. Tosh has also worked on several other productions as an assistant director including Afrika, mon amour (2006), Malooned (2007), Garden of Eden (2007), The First Grader (2009). Download Image.

Leila Afua Djansi is a Ghanaian multi award-winning film director. Her first film was awarded a 2009 worldFest Platinum Award for the film Grass Between My Lips, a story of female circumcision and early marriage, set in a northern Ghana village. In 2010, her debut feature, I Sing of a Well was nominated for 11 African Movie Academy Awards. The film won 3 awards: Best Sound, Best Costume and the Jury Special Award for Over-All Best Film. In 2011, Leila was presented with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA/L), Pan African Film Festival Choice Award for the film I Sing of a Well. Leila’s 2011 film Sinking Sands received 10 African Movie Academy Award nominations, with Ama K Abebrese winning the Best Actress Award and Djansi earning the Best Original Screenplay Award. At the first Ghana Movie Awards in 2011, Djansi’s Sinking Sands received 4 awards including Best Picture. Sinking Sands was nominated in 14 categories while her 3rd directorial effort, Ties That Bind, received a Black Reel Awards Nomination in 2012. The film also won the Best Diaspora film at the 2012 San Diego Black Film Festival. In 2016, Leila directed Like Cotton Twines an exploration of the practice of Trokosi in her native country of Ghana. The film was nominated for “Best World Fiction Film” at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Leila’s work and contribution to the Ghana film industry has been recognized by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNiFEM) Ghana, The African Women Development Fund, The Ghana Musicians Association and other social issue minded communities. Download Image.

Jean Luc Herbulot is a celebrated director and writer from Congo Brazzaville. His film directorial debut was with Concurrence Loyale in 2008, a short film he also co-produced, with Thierry Frémont and Sagamore Stévenin in the leading roles. The film attracted the attention of professionals in the US, resulting in his move to Los Angeles to be part of feature films like the Oscar-winning production companies, such as Plan B (Twelve Years a Slave, Moonlight), Parkes and McDonald, Gladiator, Men in Black, Collateral). In 2014, he wrote and directed his first feature film: Dealer. The film was distributed in more than 70 countries and became the first independent French film to be distributed by Netflix. In 2019, together with his production partner Pamela Diop, he co-founded LACME STUDIOS to produce quality and innovative material for a global audience. In 2020, he completed his second – and first under lacme – feature film: Saloum which garnered great success on the festivals circuit.He recently completed Back to Zero, his third feature and his first in English. Download Image.

The mentors and jurors will form part of the independent judging panel, under the guidance of UNESCO and Netflix, which will choose the six winners. The winners will then develop their 12 to 20-minute short films under the guidance of industry mentors.

The competition aims to discover new brave, witty voices and to give emerging filmmakers in Sub-Saharan Africa visibility to a global audience

About The Application process:
● How to apply:
Candidates will need to submit a synopsis of their concept (no more than 500 words) in a Creative Statement as well as a link to a recent CV and a portfolio of any past audiovisual work they have produced on www.netflix-growcreative.com/unesco
● Applications open
Applications can be made via www.netflix-growcreative.com/unesco from October 14th. They will close on November 28th, 2021 at 11:59 PM (GMT).
● Eligibility Criteria:
○ The competition is open to individuals seeking to venture into feature film development and production. Applicants must have a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years of demonstrable professional experience in the audio-visual industry. Applicants must have developed and produced 1 to 2 theatrical feature films, television fiction, documentaries, or 2-3 short films and/or commercials.
○ Candidates must be a citizen of a Sub-Saharan African country and currently residing in Sub-Saharan Africa to apply. Applicants must be 18-35 years old at the time of submission.
● Shortlisted finalists:
The shortlisted 20 candidates will be announced in January and will then be invited to a “How to Pitch to Netflix” workshop to guide them on how to prepare, polish, and present their film concepts. An independent judging panel, under the guidance of UNESCO and Netflix, will choose the six winners, who will then develop their 12 to 20-minute short films under the guidance of industry mentors.

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