The five filmmakers being awarded $10,000 apiece in Focus Features’ Africa First Program, an initiative earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, were named today by Focus Features CEO James Schamus.
Earlier this year, Focus offered participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded the financing for production and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping the resources of the film industry there. Complete details on Africa First can be accessed through www.filminfocus.com/africafirst.
The winning filmmakers comprise three women and two men; Mr. Edouard Bamporiki (from Rwanda), Ms. Jenna Bass (from South Africa), Mr. Jan-Hendrik Beetge (also from South Africa), Ms. Dyana Gaye (from Senegal), and Ms. Wanuri Kahiu (from Kenya).
The short films that they will be directing are, respectively, Long Coat, a drama about a young Hutu coming to terms with Rwanda’s and his own family’s past; The Tunnel, a 1980s-set story centering around a 10-year-old girl’s quest; The Abyss Boys, a thriller about an illegal trade in a small fishing town; the public transportation musical N’Dar [Saint Louis Blues]; and Pumzi [Breath], a futuristic sci-fi tale.
Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Imani Cameron ("Sometimes in April"), whose Completion Films company has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus.
“We are hoping to work closely with these filmmakers on any aspects of their films that they want assistance with, so that they can fully realize their artistic visions," Cameron said. "I’m so pleased that we found diverse finalists from all over continental Africa.”