Netflix, UNESCO launch competition to find next generation African filmmakers

14 Oct 2021, 12:00 am
Financial Nigeria


Each of the six winners will create a short film that will premiere on Netflix in 190 countries with $75,000 grant and also receive an additional $25,000 prize money.

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Netflix and UNESCO have partnered to launch a short film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Winners of the competition will be trained and mentored by industry professionals and provided with a $75,000 production budget to create short films that will premiere on Netflix in 2022 as an “Anthology of African folktales”.
One key aim of this competition is to discover new voices and to give emerging filmmakers in SSA visibility on a global scale, Netflix and UNESCO said today in a joint statement sent to Financial Nigeria. They said the competition wants to find the bravest, wittiest, and most surprising retellings of some of Africa’s most-loved folktales and share them with entertainment fans around the world in over 190 countries.
“It is important that the film sector acts to ensure the voices of Africa are heard, by supporting the emergence of diverse cultural expressions, putting forth new ideas and emotions, and creating opportunities for creators to contribute to global dialogue for peace, culture and development," said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.
The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg, starts today and will remain open until 14 November 2021. Each of the six winners will receive their $75,000 grant to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of Netflix and industry mentors to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the winners will also receive $25,000.
"Growing up, entertainment was how I connected with people,” said Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “I fell in love with the stories and characters I saw on screen and experienced how storytelling has the power to inspire, which is why I’m excited about this partnership with UNESCO and the opportunities ahead. Together we will promote local cultures and support the creative industries in telling stories that cross borders, reflect universal truths, and ultimately, bring us together.”
UNESCO and Netflix said they both strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world. They said many emerging filmmakers struggle with finding the right resources and visibility to enable them to fully unleash their talents and develop their creative careers. This competition aims to address these issues and enable African storytellers to take a first step towards showcasing their content to a global audience.
"This competition puts a global spotlight on the emerging, homegrown talents of Africa while honouring the storytelling tradition of the continent,” said Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture. “By infusing new energy into folktales, these young filmmakers enable stories to transcend time, space and culture - from their communities, through a digital platform, into the hearts of audiences around the world."
The partnership also aims to help create sustainable employment and encourage economic growth and it will therefore contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a series of targets established by the United Nations which aims to end global poverty in all its forms by the end of this decade. “This film competition will also help reduce inequalities by facilitating access to global markets and by guaranteeing dignified working conditions. All of these are key goals within the 2030 Agenda,” according to the statement.
According to Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Content in Africa, Africa has a rich storytelling heritage and a wealth of folktales that have been passed down for generations. When you marry these very local stories with Africa’s emerging talent, there is no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other.
Folktales have always been an important way of passing on culture, heritage, and values to future generations, while constantly inviting people to reimagine their relevance to our contemporary societies. The organisers said the theme of the competition was inspired by African Union 2063 Agenda’s Aspiration 5, which celebrates African cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics. This competition aims to harness this important tradition with a modern outlook while leveraging new mediums of distributing artistic and creative content, like Netflix.


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