Africa First

short film program

AWARD RECIPIENTS

2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

2010 Award Recipients

  • Chika Anadu  |  Nigeria

    Chika Anadu was born in Lagos, Nigeria in November 1980. She attended school there before going to the UK in 1997, where she did her 'A' Levels, got her first degree in BA (Hons) Law and Criminology, and an MA in Africa: Human and Sustainable Development.

    Having always been an avid film buff from childhood, and having fallen in love with foreign Language/Arthouse films during her Masters degree, it wasn't till 2006 that Chika realized that she wanted to be a filmmaker.

    She permanently moved back to Nigeria in 2008 to gain some experience in TV and film production. She didn't see as much action as she had hoped she would, so she decided to shoot a couple of shorts she had written, and would direct. She did this in October and November of 2009.

    EPILOGUE is the title of her first short and it was accepted into the 2010 San Diego Black Film Festival, USA. Her second short, AVA, was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner 2010.

    Chika is currently working on her first feature script, B For Baby Boy, at the Cannes Cinefondation Residence Programme in Paris. B For Baby Boy is a contemporary drama set in Nigeria, about a woman's desperate quest for a male child - which reveals the inherent discrimination of women in Nigeria in the name of culture and tradition.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I heard about Africa First while 'googling' as usual for filmmaking opportunities. Not applying would have been the height of foolishness, because how many opportunities, big or small, are there specifically for up and coming African filmmakers? Just one big one. Africa First. The fact that Focus Features is involved is the icing on the cake.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    On the Focus Features Africa First website, I had seen clips from the films that had come out of the Africa First program, and I was blown away. So blown away was I, that I was almost intimidated into not applying, because I felt that I had, and still have a lot to learn. Thankfully I don't scare easily.

    Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
    I grew up in Lagos. Nigeria. It's like nowhere in the world. New York may think it's bustling, inspiring/inspired, and non-stop, and I don't doubt that it is. But it's a sleepy coastal town compared to Lagos.

    My childhood was adventurous, thanks to my mum. She made sure we were exposed to all kinds of cultural/artistic activity. My mum always took my siblings and I to watch plays and see musicals at the National Theatre and elsewhere. I started playing the piano at the age of seven, and my sisters and I had taekwondo lessons every saturday morning. We played tennis one summer, and learned french the next. We spent almost every christmas in our village, in Anambra state, were we were allowed to go crazy and explore with our cousins. This appreciation for all kinds of artistic expression, and boldly trying new things, has stayed with me, and that can be seen in my work. Thank you mummy!

    What was the first movie your remember seeing?
    I don't remember the first movie I saw. But the film I remember having a big impact on me, even as a 6 year old, was The Champ, with Jon Voight. I identified with the little boy, because I knew, even then, that I loved my mother at least as much as he loved his father. Till today whenever I watch that film, I cry through most of it, and then I spend the next 24 hours depressed! Lol. It drives my sisters crazy.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker when I saw Cinema Paradiso. The story, the cinematography, the music, the pacing. Wow! It's not even one of my top 10 movies of all time (it may just make my top 20) but it was clearly made by a lover of the art of cinema, like myself. It's an ode to cinema, so when I saw it, it was like a light bulb being turned on in my head. I couldn't believe that all the years that I had loved film, I had had no idea that it was what I was meant to do.

    How would you define African Cinema?
    African Cinema in the last 20 years has been practically non-existent. Films have been made yes, but not necessarily cinematic films. But all that is changing. African Cinema is on the cusp of being reborn, and will be better than ever. I'm very excited about this because we, the Africa First Alumni, are a part of this fledgling New African Cinema.

    Who are some of your most important influences or heroes - either in film or elsewhere?
    When I think about heroes, I think that they have to be people you know, because I think for someone to be your hero, you've got to love them, warts and all, and you can't love a stranger like that. So I'll have to say my number one hero is my mother, Ijeoma Jatto. And then my siblings, all four of them!
    The greatest thing anyone can give to anyone is the confidence to go out there and live boldly, without the fear of losing their love. This is the main reason why I'm able to pursue filmmaking as a career. Love.

    What filmmakers do you most admire - and why?
    I don't have specific directors that I follow, I generally go by country. Danish cinema is one to admire. Apart from the great stories, their filmmaking is bold, daring and experimental. That's the kind of filmmaking I intend to emulate.

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    If I couldn't be a filmmaker, I would get a job working for a travel/holiday show about travel off the beaten track. I love to travel and explore, and if I can get someone to pay me to do that, well... Bob's your uncle!

    Read more about Chika »

  • Lev David  |  South Africa

    Lev David is a writer-director (but mostly writer) from South Africa. His first feature screenplay, 31 MILLION REASONS, is a heist movie where getting the cash is easy, but spending it is hard. It's being directed by Cannes L'Atelier director, John Barker (BUNNY CHOW) and will be released in 2011. His second feature, DON'T GO INTO THE CITY, a puzzle-like, contained, cat-and-mouse thriller, was a PAGE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING AWARDS finalist and has recently been optioned. BOY AND BEAR, his AFRICA FIRST-winning screenplay, is a near-silent children's fantasy short inspired in part by the noir classic, THE THIRD MAN. Lev's greatest ambition is to make movies worthy of both the festival circuit and the bootleg circuit.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I found out about the competition on South Africa's National Film and Video Foundation's website in 2008 when it started but missed the first two years due to procrastination.

    Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
    There's a clip of Dyana Gaye's Saint Louis Blues that took my breath away -- a singy- dancy bit of musical greatness set in the traffic jam. It was breathtaking. I wish the filmmakers' completed films were easier to find.

    Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
    I was born in 1980 in Durban, South Africa and spent my whole childhood there. I was a sick little kid and didn't play with other kids much. I watched movies. There was occasional talk of a coming civil war. All the boys were thrilled.

    What was the first movie your remember seeing?
    CAT PEOPLE (1982). I was three or four at the time. I haven't seen it since but I just looked it up on IMDB and it's described as an 'erotic thriller'.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    I think I became aware of film as an invented thing with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981). The man behind the counter at the video rental place made me a bootleg copy, I came in so often with my dad to rent it, and I wore that copy thin, watching and rewatching sequences, trying to figure out how it was put together. It's an incredible movie.

    How would you define African Cinema?
    Like so many South Africans I know, I know so little about the rest of the continent, let alone its cinema. I'm hoping the Africa First weekend will be the start of my education. Regardless, I hope to find that African Cinema can't be defined any more than 'European' or 'American' or 'Japanese' cinema can be defined. I hope that 'African Cinema' is allowed to be whatever 'Cinema' is allowed to be. Profound, silly. Relevant, irrelevant. Responsible, irresponsible. Whatever.

    Read more about Lev »

  • Jacqueline Kalimunda  |  Rwanda

    JACQUELINE KALIMUNDA was born in Kigali, Rwanda 35 years ago and lived in Kenya, Madagascar and the UK before settling in France. After graduating in business and in history, she started working in film production. She trained as an editor and worked on documentaries and TV films. She also worked as continuity on French TV series.

    In 2002 she wrote, directed and co-produced her first film, the 23 minute multi-awarded ABOUT BRAIDS. The short film was also distributed in theatres in the UK and the USA. The documentary HOMELAND is the conclusion of a long project started when she was researching images of Rwanda for her graduation thesis with historians Jean-Pierre Chretien and Helene d'Almeida Topor. For this award winning documentary, Jacqueline Kalimunda unveiled 80 years of unpublished film archives on Rwanda.

    In 2007 and 2008, Jacqueline Kalimunda directed the first and second season of TV series IMAGINE AFRIKA., broadcasted in 35 African countries on public tv channels in English, French, Swahili, Zulu, Portuguese' Then she directed in coproduction with Canal Plus the feature film High Life to be released in 2010.

    An alumni of the Berlinale Talent Campus (for France), Jacqueline Kalimunda is dedicated to original stories and strong themes and is now d'velopping 2 projects as a producer and writing the script of her next project as a director.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    I really wanted to meet the Focus Features team and get the opportunity to work in the American environment.

    Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
    I was born and raised in Kigali Rwanda. At the age of 15, I went to live and study in Nairobi, Kenya, then I moved to Tananarivo, Madagascar. During my teenage years I spent all my holidays in Rwanda with my family. Needless to say I maintain a close bond with Rwanda where I still go almost every year, sometimes several times a year when I'm working there, although I now live in France.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    On a daily basis we watched at home, on video, endless Bollywood movies ' I still LOVE Amitabh Bachchan and his voice ' Hong Kong movies ' BRUCE LEE will live forever - westerns ' Clint Eastwood's the coollest ' and French films ' Louis de Funes and Bourvil were a bit strange although funny but I loved Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo - Borsalino remains a favorite for me.

    They were not so many places to watch movies in theaters in Rwanda. I used to hang out at the French Cultural center as I attended French school in Kigali, and went to the library there. One day ' when exactly I have no clue- I watched Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and it blew my mind. The freedom of the characters, the cool music, the white convertible, the general impression of lightness stayed with me for years...

    There is one film that I remember VERY WELL seeing, still at the French Cultural center, because it freaked me out and fascinated me, also because my sister and I where ALONE in the theater. That film is Kubrick's Shining. We were holding on to the front seats but our eyes were not blinking. I was 9 or 10.

    Later I remember watching Spike Lee's Do the right thing and Van Peebles' New Jack City at the 20th Century theater in Nairobi. There was a HUGE crowd. A different vibe... Black characters... I was 15 or 16.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    Breathless was for me a REAL WORLD in which I wanted to live. My crafts when I was a teenager were painting and writing. Later I discovered Fellini in the Latin quarter theaters with a friend who's parents where working in the industry. I started talking more and more about film making, scripts, film techniques, actors... Amarcord remains one of my favourite films that I keep watching again and again...

    Who is your perfect audience?
    I'm working on building my audience... we can talk about this in a few years.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    I always laugh when I read about pretentious film makers who've barely directed a movie and who quote the most amazing masters as their main influence. Although it's always a pleasure to talk about the movies and film makers I like, the real answer to this is that I love cinema...
    My heroes are directors who are true to themselves and true to their environment and come out with real original visions. In that sense they've encouraged me to listen to my own desire and remain true to myself.

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

    What I love most is the relationship some directors manage to have with some actors. Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, Fellini and Mastroiani, James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix, Bergman, Woody Allen and their women... Anytime I direct a film I try and hope to start such a long term relationship with some of my actors... with my crew also actually...

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    I would write and/or paint.

    Read more about Jacqueline »

  • Ebele Okoye  |  Nigeria

    Ebele Okoye graduated from the IMT, Enugu, Nigeria with an upper credit in Graphic Design/Illustration.

    Between 1990 and 1999, she worked as a graphic artist / freelance cartoonist in Advertising agencies and newspapers in Lagos; as well as a full time studio painter until she migrated to Germany in 2000.

    After a post graduate course in African Studies at the University of Cologne, a design study stint at the University of Applied Sciences Duesseldorf, and a traineeship at the West German Broadcasting Corporation, WDR, she furthered in 2D Animation at the International Film School Cologne under the guidance of renowned names in animation like Michael Dudok de Wit, Jimmy Murakami, Sylvan Chomet and Larry Lauria.

    While working as a visual artist directing and producing own films, as well as commissioned projects on media design and animation, Ebele is active as an associate director at Shrinkfish Ltd., a newly incorporated studio in Abuja, Nigeria focusing on animation, which target the promotion of African content both locally and internationally.

    In 2009, she produced and animated "Anna Blume", a German-Bulgarian animation co- production and winner of the 2007 Robert Bosch Foundation Promotional Prize for Animation.

    She also works as a coordinator for the CCDi (Children Content Development initiative); a training initiative for the artistic and cinematographic development of gifted but unprivileged Children.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    Africa First is the first programme which directly offered me a very special opportunity to take yet another serious step up the rung of the ladder of my childhood dreams. One of these dreams is to contribute to the development of local film industries through animation using stories influenced by the African mythology and folk tales.

    Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
    I grew up in the south eastern part of Nigeria in a place called Igbo Ukwu, known for the 9th century bronze carvings.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    Truly I cannot remember this. As a child, I have always had my own movies in my head, thus might end up mixing things.

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    My decision to become an animation filmmaker was not triggered off by a film but by the oral African Folk tales in which animals were acclaimed to talk and do things which could only be associated to human beings. So at the tender age of 7, I decided that I would like to make these folk tales a "reality" This decision fell even before I heard the word "Animation" At 12, by chance, I read an article on Animation and how it was made and that settled it for me.

    Who is your perfect audience?
    My perfect Audience is anyone who is able to appreciate Animation as an independent medium which does not fall under any categorization meant for live action films: a medium which is not just for telling fun stories but for addressing serious issues too: those who are able to see the humour in abstract ambiguism as well as the artistry in a plain meaningless gag.

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    Again I cannot give a concrete answer to this. My cinema heroes are not substantiated in particular actors or actresses. I tend to be affected by whole context of the movie in which they played. Thus an actor could win my heart in one movie but get disregarded by me in his/her next movie. In the same way, new heroes and heroines arise every now and then for me.

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    This is yet another question which hardly applies to animation as much as any other film genre being that we create our own characters. There are certainly a few people whom I would love to speak a role for my characters but these are no world-famous actors. They are artists and maybe other film-makers whose work I hold in high esteem, in appreciation of their talents and efforts especially in the present social constellation.

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    If I couldn't be a filmmaker, I would most probably have gone into language analysis and psychology.

    Read more about Ebele »

  • Julius Onah  |  Nigeria

    One of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film", Julius' award winning films have screened at numerous festivals including Berlin, London, Camerimage and Los Angeles. He most recently completed his debut feature "The Girl is in Trouble" with executive producer Spike Lee.

    How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
    Telling an African story and even more specifically making a film in Nigeria has been a long term ambition. It's an important part of who I am and having had the opportunity to make films in various countries I feel very strongly about delving into my own personal history. I hope to be able to explore feature film work in Nigeria, and Africa First is an incredible opportunity to begin that journey.

    Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
    Mostly in Arlington, Virginia and Manilla, The Philippines with a few years in Lagos, Nigeria - London, England - Lome, Togo.

    What was the first movie you remember seeing?
    Pretty Woman

    What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
    Blue directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski

    Who is your perfect audience?
    An open minded one...

    Who are some of your cinematic influences or heroes?
    Filmmakers: Jean-Luc Godard, Spike Lee, Stanley Kubrick, Terrence Malick, Jules Dassin, Wong Kar-Wai, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Fatih Akin

    Movies: Night and the City, The Sweet Smell of Success, Reprise, The Thin Red Line, Last Life in the Universe, The Lives of Others, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, In the Mood for Love, Head-On, A Prophet, Do the Right Thing, Days of Being Wild

    If you could cast anyone in the world, whom would you want?
    Too hard to pick one...

    If you couldn't be a filmmaker, what would you do?
    Make Music...

    Read more about Julius »