Finding Africa’s Next Generation Of Filmmakers: Netflix & UNESCO Launch Groundbreaking Competition In Sub-Saharan Africa

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Netflix and UNESCO have partnered to launch an innovative short film competition on ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ across Sub-Saharan Africa. Winners of the competition will be trained and mentored by industry professionals and provided with a US$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 Sub-Saharan Africa visibility on a global scale. We want 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.

The competition, which will be administered by Dalberg, will open on 14 October 2021 until 14 November 2021. Each of the 6 winners will receive a production grant of US$75,000 (through a local production company) to develop, shoot and post-produce their films under the guidance of industry mentors selected by UNESCO & Netflix to ensure everyone involved in the production is fairly compensated. In addition, each of the 6 winners will also receive $25,000.

UNESCO and Netflix both strongly believe in the importance of promoting diverse local stories, and bringing them to the world. They recognize that 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 partnership will also 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.

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The competition is open to emerging filmmakers across Sub-Saharan Africa on the theme of “African Folktales, Reimagined.” 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. This theme is 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.

For the first round, applicants will be required to submit a synopsis of their concept (no more than 500 words) as well as links to a recent CV and a portfolio/ evidence of any past audiovisual work they have produced. Applications can be submitted via www.netflix-growcreative.com/unesco from October 14th at 16:00 CET and will close on November 14th, 2021 at 13:59 PM CET.

“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.” – Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

“Growing up, entertainment was how I connected with people. 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.” – Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix.

“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’s no limit to fresh new stories to connect people with African cultures and bring the world that much closer to each other” – Ben Amadasun, Director of Content in Africa, Netflix.

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 13th, 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.
TIMELINE:
October 2021 – Application portal opens on October 14th
November 2021 – Applications close on November 14th
January 2022 – Announcement of Top 20 finalists
January 2022 – Workshop on “How to Pitch to Netflix” for shortlisted candidates
February 2022- Shortlisted candidates invited to pitch final entries to mentors
February 2022 – Final selection via a Netflix and UNESCO joint judging panel
February 2022 – Announcement of 6 winners
Spring/Summer 2022 – Development, production & post-production of films
September/October 2022 – Launch of 6 films on Netflix service