UNESCO and Netflix join in competition to discover new African filmmakers

UNESCO and Netflix this Thursday launched a competition that aims to “find the new generation of filmmakers in Africa”.

Entrants can enter by submitting a synopsis proposal and resume by November 14, while winners will be “trained and mentored by industry professionals, and will receive a production budget of $75,000 [quase 65 mil euros] to create short films that will debut on Netflix, in 2022, as an ‘Anthology of African Tales'”, according to a statement from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“One of the main goals of this competition is to discover new voices and give visibility on a global scale to emerging filmmakers from sub-Saharan Africa. We want to find bold, intelligent and surprising new ways to tell some of Africa’s most beloved traditional tales and share them with fans of entertainment around the world,” adds the statement.

In addition to the production budget, each of the six winners will receive $25,000 (€21,560).

The production of cinematographic works is booming in Africa, thanks to digital technologies, but the economic potential of the industry remains “largely unexplored”, revealed last week a UNESCO study.

According to the report presented on Tuesday by Deputy Director General Ernesto Ottone, Africa is the “most underserved continent” in terms of film distribution.

The study, which took place between November 2020 and May 2021, focused on the African film and audiovisual industry, and analyzed its strengths and weaknesses.

In the presentation of the report, the case of ‘Nollywood’ (the Nigerian film industry) was highlighted, where around 2,500 films are made annually. ‘Nollywood’ allowed the emergence of a local production and diffusion industry with its own economic model, which is private.

“Unlike ‘Nollywood’, African film production is struggling to find an economic model that guarantees sustainable growth, mainly due to the size and inadequacy of national markets,” said Ottone.

“The revenues generated by the audiovisual sector in most African states go to foreign interests,” he added.

Ottone said the industry “employs around five million people and represents around four billion euros of GDP [Produto Interno Bruto]”of the whole or continent.

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