Urucu announces five filmmakers chosen for REALNESS scriptwriting residency
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Fri, 20 May 2016 11:07
Image credit: Urucu Media

At a recent event in Cannes, Urucu Media announced the selection of five emerging African screenwriters to participate in REALNESS, a pioneering residency initiative that will afford a new generation of filmmakers the opportunity to nurture and cultivate their talent as authentic voices in African cinema. REALNESS is presented under the mentorship of Berlinale Talents, in partnership with Nirox Foundation, Durban FilmMart, Restless Talent Management, The French Institute of South Africa and Institute Français’s La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde, Torino Film Lab, EAVE and World Cinema Fund.

REALNESS was conceived by Urucu Media as a way of addressing a need for promising African film projects to be resourced and supported in the development phase in order to be competitive on the global film market. The format of the residency was collaboratively conceptualised through a series of public think tanks to ensure that it would be responsive to the unique demands of the film industry on the continent.

The five writers will participate in a programme that will begin with an immersive industry experience at Africa’s leading finance and co-production market, Durban FilmMart (from 17 to 20 June), which will be a platform where residents will have an opportunity to attach producers to their projects, and be publicly presented on a date to be scheduled.

This will be followed by six weeks at the Nirox Artists’ Residency in the Cradle of Humankind, where they will be given the time and space to develop drafts of their screenplays under the guidance of some of the industry’s top professionals. Finally, the most promising project will be selected and funded to participate in the prestigious La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde in Cannes, receive an EAVE Producers’ Workshop Scholarship, and be invited to Torino Film Lab Meetings.

Applicants were required to present a screenplay in process, which was evaluated by a panel of international experts. The five selected screenwriters were selected from a pool of 175 applicants from 29 countries, and represent a rich and exciting diversity of contemporary African perspectives.

REALNESS 2016 writers in residence:

Amirah Tajdin is a Kenyan artist and filmmaker whose work in the short form has screened at numerous festivals across the world, including Sundance and Cannes Director’s Fortnight. She currently splits her time between Africa and the Middle East, doing freelance commercial directing and working on her cinematic projects. She will be developing her project Hawa Hawaii during REALNESS, a feature film that tells the story of a Swahili wedding singer in Mombasa who struggles to reconcile his relationship with his mother, and his alter ego as a Bollywood-inspired drag performer.

Hiwot Admasu is an Ethiopian filmmaker who took up her passion of filmmaking full time after she completed her B.Sc in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and has since screened work at international festivals including Venice and Toronto. She will be developing her film A Fool God, in which 11-year-old Mesi, in a moment of tragedy, confronts the limitations of her gender within traditional life, compelling her to leave school and explore new ways of being in the company of a slow-minded former life guard.

Luke Razanajaona is a Madagascan filmmaker who has participated in a number of prestigious programmes, including Berlinale and La Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde, and a residency with acclaimed screenwriter Oliver Gorce. He recently won the Step Fund Prize at Luxor African Film Festival. He will be working on his film Disco Africa, about a clandestine sapphire miner who comes to know his father through a stack of West African Afro Beat 45 records that allow him to relive the exhilarating optimism of 1970s post-independence Africa.

Sheetal Magan is an emerging South African talent who was recently named one of five creatives to watch by City Press. She was selected to participate in Cannes South Africa Factory to make Paraya, one of four short films to open the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2016. Her interests are in both experimental and dramatic storytelling. She will be developing her first feature film The Day and Night of Brahma, which is a layered portrait of domestic life in which a modern Indian couple are drawn into deeper questions of love and self-sacrifice by the event of their first pregnancy.

Wim Steytler hails from a family of pioneering writers and has been mentored by some of South Africa’s top directors. His narrative music video about xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg won him the prestigious CFP-E/SHOTS Young Director Award at Festival de Cannes. He was also awarded Best Director at the 2015 Silwerskerm Film Festival. His film Uitlander follows the events of a misfit South African farmer who falls into a doomsday cult after he meets a mysterious new-age, French couple following the death of his best friend.

Urucu Media is a forward-looking company that envisions a future in which African storytelling occupies a central space in the international arena. The sustainability of this unique initiative is essential to the achievement of this dream. Preparations for REALNESS 2017 are already underway, but support for the second edition is urgently needed. Organisations interested in partnering to secure the future of the project are invited to contact Urucu, to discuss the possibility of involvement, at

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