In 2021, Netflix and UNESCO launched the African Folktales Reimagined short film competition across sub-Saharan Africa that resulted in over 2000 applications from 13 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
With the aim of showcasing Africa’s arts and culture while supporting the development of young African filmmakers. The competition ran across Sub-Saharan Africa with six emerging storytellers from Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritania, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The anthology of six short films was launched as part of Netflix’s partnership with UNESCO to support the next generation of storytellers who were provided with resources including a $90,000 budget and creative guidance by established filmmakers as mentors to bring their stories to life.
Each storyteller was partnered with a local production company and under the guidance of Netflix-appointed established filmmakers as supervising producers who provided creative guidance and nurtured the filmmakers on their journey to bring their stories to life. The 6 emerging storytellers from Nigeria will see their respective short films, make their debut on Netflix, globally.
Tales as old as time from across the African continent, reimagined and retold by a new generation of six storytellers come together, the African Folktales Reimagined short films in partnership with UNESCO, will launch on Netflix on 29 March 2023.
The African Folktales, Reimagined short film collection features a variety of African on-screen talent in stories by emerging African storytellers such as Mohamed Echkouna from Mauritania with Enmity Djinn; Walt Mzengi Corey from Tanzania with Katope; Korede Azeez from Nigeria with Zabin Halima (Halima’s Choice); Voline Ogutu from Kenya with Anyango and the Ogre; Loukman Ali from Uganda with Katera of the Punishment Island and Gcobisa Yako from South Africa with MaMlambo.
Each storyteller was partnered with a local production company and under the guidance of Netflix-appointed supervising producer, Steven Markovich from Big World Cinema and industry mentors: Bongiwe Selane (mentor to Gcobisa Yako); Jenna Bass (mentorto Korede Azeez); Pape Boye (mentor to Loukman Ali); Femi Odugbemi (mentor to Mohamed Echkouna); Leila Afua Djansi (mentor to Voline Ogutu) and Tosh Gitonga (mentor to Walter Mzengi) who provided guidance and nurtured the filmmakers on their journey to bring their stories to life.
According to Ernesto Ottone R, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, “UNESCO is proud to present the tales of Africa, reimagined by its emerging, homegrown talents. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage, and creativity, African expressions in the 21st century are as diverse and dynamic as their people.”
“The UNESCO-Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to the audiovisual industries of Africa, which have the potential to generate US$20 billion in revenues annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development, and we cannot wait for audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy,” says Ernesto Ottone R.
“We are excited to finally bring this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers to Netflix members around the world,” says Tendeka Matatu, Netflix’s Director of Film in Africa.
He went further to say, “This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the pipeline of African storytelling and to include voices from underrepresented communities. We’re grateful to our partners at UNESCO who walked this journey with us to provide an opportunity for the six emerging African filmmakers to create and showcase their reimagined folktales to the world, in their languages, so that more people can see their lives reflected on screen.”
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