Africa First initiative calls for submssions


Universal Networks International has announced its support for Focus Features’ unique Africa First initiative that brings African filmmakers to industry attention. Universal Channel in Africa will be promoting the initiative through an on-air campaign and on its website

The Africa First short film programme, sponsored by Focus, annually awards five emerging African filmmakers $10,000 each towards pre-production, production, or post-production of their short film. This year, the submissions period runs until 22 August.

Universal Channel Africa, which is available on DStv Compact & DStv Premium, will air a selection of the short films completed through the programme, including Un transport en commun (Saint Louis Blues), directed by Dyana Gaye (from Senegal), which follows a journey from Dakar with seven taxi passengers telling of destinies and lives through song.

The Africa First initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is, for the fourth consecutive year offering eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. Filmmakers are also brought together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship.

All five filmmakers selected this year will be notified in late September and will retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round at


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