Africa First

short film program

AWARD RECIPIENTS

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

2009 Award Recipients

  • Stephen Abbott  |  South Africa

    Stephen Abbott is a writer, director, photographer and editor. He likes travel, coffee, stories, mountains, movies, music, and some other things.

    Why did you apply to Africa First?
    We'd written a short; it seemed worth a shot.

    Where did you grow up?
    Johannesburg.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    I think that was "The Bear", by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I honestly don't remember. It wasn't love at first sight, I think this interest in making films snuck up on me. I'm still learning.

    Who is your perfect audience?
    I'm still getting started; a paying one?

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    Sho! People in the order they come to me: David Mamet, Sofia (and Francis Ford!) Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Mark Romanek, Michel Gondry, Ridley Scott, Clint Eastwood...

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    For my Africa First film: Danny De Vito, without a doubt. Beyond that I find it hard to pick only one.

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Something in theatre. Or a pilot. Hah.

    Read more about Stephen » Watch an interview with Stephen »

  • Matt Bishanga  |  Uganda

    Matt Bishanga aims to transform Ugandan filmmakers into great international filmmakers. He speaks excellent English and Dutch and some local languages in Uganda. He's a former student at Makerere University in the school of architecture, which he attended for four years but dropped it in favor for film, which he embarked on in the Netherlands. Matt returned to Uganda in 2005 after 8 years in Holland to set up a media production company that today has produced numerous television commercials, music videos, documentaries and a feature film. He's currently lecturing filmmakers and actors around the country on how to improve their skills. Matt is producing his first feature film, "Battle of the Souls". He assembled an amateur cast and crew to produce what happens to be Uganda's first feature film entirely done by Ugandans. The film has gone on to win very many accolades some of which include, Best East African Film, Best editing, Best achievement in Visual Effects, Best supporting actor etc. This has fueled many Ugandans to start filmmaking which is Matt's goal to ensure that the industry grows so we can tell our stories and improve on tourism.

    Why did you apply to Africa First?
    I believe we could all use some help here and there and I thought Africa First was timely for me to apply for the necessary help. The sort of help that we all go looking for has to come from a trusted body or entity or otherwise you loose out. In this case, I had developed a liking for the program considering the sort of work that has been done within the program and Focus Features.

    Where did you grow up?
    I would say I've had two places where I've grown up. I've lived and studied as a young man in Kampala, Uganda for a couple of years and moved to the Netherlands (Holland) for the advanced studies where I believe I grew up and became a real man!

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    The Good The Bad And The Ugly

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    The Champ, 1979 with Jon Voight

    Who is your perfect audience?
    A full house no matter where I'm at.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    My cinematic Influences /heroes include: - Clint Eastwood - Steven Spielberg - Spike Lee - James Cameron - Robert Rodriguez - Ridley Scott - Francis Ford Coppola - Quentin Tarantino

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Camera operator or Director of Photography

    Read more about Matt » Watch an interview with Matt »

  • Daouda Coulibaly  |  Mali

    Daouda Coulibaly is a Malian-French director. He started his career in audiovisual editing. Inspired by a traditional tale, A HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE/IL ETAIT UNE FOIS L'INDEPENDANCE is his first short film.

    Why did you apply to Africa First?
    Making films is a taugh thing whether it is in Africa or anywhere else. I made my first short film all by myself and I faced a number of difficulties. Applying Africa First enables me to avoid some of them: script assessment, financing or advising, pricipally.

    Where did you grow up?
    I was born and I grew up in Marseilles (France).

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    E.T. by Spielberg.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    It was more the meeting with Souleymane CissE than the film he presented at that time, which was Waati. It was a small theater in Marseilles and there was a Q&A after the film. That night, I realized it was possible to be both an African and a filmmaker.

    Who is your perfect audience?
    The one who cares.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    Many. From Souleymane CissE to Spike Lee, including Stanley Kubrick, Oumarou Ganda or Guillermo del Toro.

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    Why not Denzel, then !

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Anything that pays the bills until I become a filmaker.

    Read more about Daouda » Watch an interview with Daouda »

  • Matthew Jankes  |  South Africa

    Matthew Jankes is an aspiring filmmaker born and raised in South Africa. He studied film through the University of Cape Town and the South African School of Motion Picture Medium (AFDA), training in writing, directing and cinematography. In between making short films he directs, shoots and edits music videos. He is currently doing a re-write on a feature length script, with a view to hopefully direct it in mid 2011. He is a big sports fan and his second love, other than movie making, is too argue about politics with anyone who'll listen.

    Why did you apply to Africa First?
    I applied to Africa First after having followed, with a keen interest, the 2008 winners. When you mention the name Focus Features, what aspiring filmmaker in the world wouldn't sit up and take notice? I had a screenplay written which was gathering dust, one that I had all but given up making. So when the announcement came that Focus would be running the Africa First Program again, I dusted off my script, cleaned it up and got it ready for submission. There are very few opportunities of this kind for aspiring African filmmakers, so when they come around you owe it to yourself to try.

    Where did you grow up?
    I was born and raised in Johannesburg South Africa. Besides a few years studying film in Cape Town and Santa Barbara, 'Jozi' has always been my home.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    I do not remember the first film I ever saw, but there are a couple of films which stand out from my childhood. I remember being fascinated by Empire of the Sun, the idea of being left stranded without one's parents certainly struck a chord with my adolescent mind. Like thousands of young adults today, I have a very clear memory a certain monstrous clown, the film IT still plagues me as I'm sure it does many who took to watching late night film's against their parent's permission. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Watership Down and The Land before Time were my favourite animated films as a child. But without a doubt, He Man and the Masters of the Universe (yes the Dolph Lundgren spectacular) was my all time favourite.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    Steven Soderberg's Traffic was the first film that made me want to be a filmmaker. Very early on in the movie Benicio Del Toro's character is asked his name, and he replies "Javier, Rodriguez Rodriguez". I'm not sure why that moment has had such a lasting impact, maybe it was the shaky handheld camera, or the harsh tobacco tint; but it has always stuck with me. I think I became aware of the choices in style, form and perspective that were open to the filmmaker; and I decided right there and then that this thing called 'filmmaking' was what I wanted to do.

    Who is your perfect audience?
    My perfect audience is anyone who loves cinema, the spectacle and the form in equal amounts.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    I have drawn influence from a number of filmmakers and from a variety of film movements. However, I am a huge fan of 1970's and contemporary Hollywood cinema. Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull blew me away. I have subsequently always been drawn to narratives which involve problematic protagonists. Clint Eastwood's Mystic River is an all time favourite; I admire his ability to tell compelling stories with such an understated and deft touch. More recently I have found myself totally in awe of everything Christopher Nolan does, from his Batman films to his earlier offerings of the Following, Memento and The Prestige. I respect Nolan's ability to explore complex concepts and ideas through the vehicle of genre, his films are dramatic and entertaining. He has mastered the art of making intelligent films which are none the less accessible to large audiences. He always has something worth saying to say, such as his observations on memory and identity in Memento, or the nature of fear in Batman Begins. He astutely subverts the norms and conventions of genre, using narrative structure as a means to express theme and concept, and his films engage the audience member looking for pure entertainment all the way to those who want to appreciate the art of filmmaking. All in all I am seriously impressed with his work! Terence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The New World), Michael Mann (Heat and Collateral), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) and David Fincher (Se7en) are all major influences.

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    I would love to make a film with Guy Pierce; he's one of the most under appreciated actors around. I watched him recently in an Australian film called The Proposition, and once again I was hooked on the edge of my seat. He's one of those elite performers who never puts a foot wrong.

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    If I couldn't be a filmmaker I would almost certainly have been a lawyer. I love arguing, and have a very critical, analytical and somewhat cynical mind. I've tried wherever possible, to use storytelling as my arena to explore arguments, opnions and ideas.

    Read more about Matthew » Watch an interview with Matthew »

  • Rungano Nyoni  |  Zambia

    Rungano Nyoni was born in Lusaka Zambia, Rungano meaning Story or Storyteller in the Shona Tribe. Coming from a theatre background she only started directing films in 2006. Her first film was called 'Yande' (My Great Happiness in Bemba), a film she wrote and shot on black and white super 8mm that dealt with the fashion for African Women who westernised their appearance and mannerisms in order to conform to an 'ideal'. The narrative was taken from the writings of French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, from his extract, 'On the Cannibals'. She draws heavily from Docu-Drama style of Directing and is very actor driven in the way she approaches her filmmaking using a lot of devising and improvisational techniques in her films. Her influences include Shane Meadows, Danny Boyle, Coppolla and Isabelle Huppert. Her favourite films include Festen, The Fall and La Pianiste (the Piano Teacher).

    Why did you apply to Africa First?
    So I have signed up to every single film e-bulletin that's out there, waiting for an opportunity to come up... like 'funding for female Zambian directors scheme' for example. Well needless to say that didn't happen so I kind of gave up all hope. Anyway, so I was up late one night muddling through my insomnia whilst grappling with another one of my billions of film ideas and I saw an e-bulletin that had information about the Africa First Programme... I couldn't believe it. Initially I thought as it was so late at night I may have been imagining it... I do that sometimes. But nay, it was there and it was real and so my subsequent response was I have to do this ...or die!... dramatic?... yes. But I am from Zambia, which is a pretty amazing country (for those that haven't been go NOW). Unfortunately as beautiful as Zambia is we do not have access to many opportunities in film. Understandably developing our film infrastructure has not been our Nations priority. Although there is progress, but it's painstakingly slow. I applied for Africa First because it was an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to tell the story of 'The Adventures of Mwansa the Great'. I'm getting emotional thinking about it- this does not happen where I'm from so I just had to apply.

    Where did you grow up?
    I grew up in Lusaka, which is Zambia's capital city. We moved around a lot within it and I have been to about a billion schools but Lusaka remained my home.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    Erm...Rambo!... my gosh, Rambo. That film made me question what possible chance of a decent future I could ever wish to have if I remained a girl, because I realised as a girl the chances of growing up to be Rambo were slim to non-existent.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    Another one of my insomnia ridden nights, this time I was skimming through channels and I stumbled across a film called FESTEN...genius! I just thought...I want to do something just like that.

    Who is your perfect audience?
    Honestly, I would be grateful just to have an audience.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    I love French Cinema mostly, where nothing but everything happens. I love watching films where I don't feel spoon-fed...I like to work things out for myself over time, feeling clever and smug whilst doing so. I also love Italian 50s films too, Hitchcock- I've only now began to discover his genius. Francis Ford Coppola particularly with Apocalypse Now because I still watch it and think ... 'how in God's name did he do that?' I love, love, love Shane Meadows he is absolutely my all time favourite Director.

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    Isabelle Huppert

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Gosh this is such a loaded question because I get asked it a lot, mostly by concerned Parents, Relatives, and randoms who still think it's not too late for me to pursue a 'legitimate' career choice. I'll answer this question the same way now as I always do by shaking my head slowly side to side and saying 'Sorry, this is it, there isn't a Plan B'.

    Read more about Rungano » Watch an interview with Rungano »