Africa First

short film program

Third-Year Winners of Focus Features' Africa First Program Announced

THIRD-YEAR WINNERS OF FOCUS FEATURES’
AFRICA FIRST PROGRAM ANNOUNCED;
 $10,000 FOR SHORT FILMS AWARDED TO CHIKA ANADU, LEV DAVID, JACQUELINE KALIMUNDA, EBELE OKOYE, JULIUS ONAH

NEW YORK, October 12th, 2010 – Focus Features’ Africa First Program for short films, the worldwide film company’s initiative earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, has for a third consecutive year awarded five filmmakers $10,000 apiece. The five selected were announced today by Focus Features CEO James Schamus.

The uniquely conceived initiative offers eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded the $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. Of equal importance, the program brings the filmmakers together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship. The short films coming out of the program have since been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, and Berlin Film Festivals; the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and the Museum of the Moving Image, among other venues worldwide. Details on the program are accessible year-round through www.focusfeateures.com/africafirst.

The winning filmmakers for 2010 are Ms. Chika Anadu (from Nigeria); Mr. Lev David (from South Africa); Ms. Jacqueline Kalimunda (from Rwanda); Ms. Ebele Okoye (from Nigeria); and Mr. Julius Onah (from Nigeria).

The short films that they will be directing are, respectively, The Marriage Factor, a contemporary comedy/drama about a young woman and her marriage-minded mother; Boy and Bear, a fable in which a lonely little boy faces up to a monster; Sky Burning Down, a thriller about an illegal immigrant caught in a moral quandary; The Legacy of Rubies, the folk tale-inspired animated account of a young man about to wear the crown in a monarchy; and Nepa Don Quench, a drama about a summer holiday that becomes a test of a family’s mettle.

Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose Completion Films company has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of production Matthew Plouffe. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in early November for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other; members of the advisory board of experts in African cinema; such Focus executives as Mr. Schamus and president of production John Lyons, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Cameron-Dingle and Mr. Plouffe.

Mr. Schamus commented, “These five filmmakers are pushing boundaries – geographical and narrative. Once again, everyone at Focus is excited to meet them and get to know this next generation of talent from Africa.”

Mrs. Cameron-Dingle said, “Matt and I are thrilled to lend support to these men and women. We hadn’t yet had a Nigerian filmmaker in the program, but this third time was clearly the charm – we now have several.”

The submission period ran from May 17th-September 3rd, 2010. The five filmmakers retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Ms. Cameron, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.

The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Mr. Clarence Hamilton, script editor and Head of Production at NFVF; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.

Africa First alumni from the first two years of the program are Mr. Stephen Abbott, for Dirty Laundry; Mr. Edouard Bamporiki, for Long Coat; Ms. Jenna Bass, for The Tunnel; Mr. Jan-Hendrik Beetge, for The Abyss Boys; Mt. Matt Bishanga, for  A Good Catholic Girl; Ms. Daouda Coulibaly, for As Long As Bozos Sing; Ms. Dyana Gaye, for N’Dar [St. Louis Blues]; Mr. Matthew Jankes, for Umkhungo; Ms. Wanuri Kahiu, for Pumzi [Breath]; and Ms. Rungano Nyoni, for The Adventures of Mwansa the Great.