Zimbabwean feature film project Live from Zimbabwe, produced by Jackie Cahi and directed by Rumbi Katedza, scooped the Hubert Bals Fund Award for Most Promising African Project at the recent Durban FilmMart Co-Production & Finance Market.
Says Katedza: “It was uplifting to be announced as the winner and we feel validated to know that our story resonated with an international judging panel. The prize money of 5 000 €uros will allow us some space to plan and focus on writing a good script. It will also enable us to attend other film marts to continue the fund-raising process.’
Katedza conceived Live from Zimbabwe when told of a newspaper article about an isolated village that set up a successful pirate radio station for one exhilarating week of transmission.
“It was a beautiful story of a forgotten and neglected people finding their voice. I then started to imagine what could happen if the influence of this small radio station went far beyond its region,’ she explains.
The film’s producer Jackie Cahi notes that they will approach the European film funds and hope to interest co-production partners in Europe and South Africa. “We had some interest from a few sales agents and once we have a final script, we will seek agreements with different partners. The Hubert Bals Fund Award will give more exposure to our film project.’
Cahi was also one of three recipients to be awarded the prize to attend the Rotterdam Lab 2013 along with David Horler for Flatland (South Africa) and Ikechukwu Omenaihe for In Silence… & In Tears (Nigeria).
Flatland picked up another two awards – a prize of 5 000 €uros from WorldView for The Most Promising Feature Project and the EAVE prize to attend the European Producers Workshop.
Says Flatland producer David Horler: “It was naturally very gratifying and humbling to be recognised by the international delegates in attendance and writer / director Jenna Cato Bass and I are incredibly grateful for both the monetary support and publicity garnered from the event.
“The WorldView prize money will go a long way to facilitate the myriad of research, travel and development costs required as the script takes shape, while the Rotterdam Lab and EAVE scholarships will similarly further my knowledge and training as a young film professional.’
Flatland is a western set in the Karoo that sees three women face mental and physical hardships as they search for a fabled apartheid-era nuclear bomb.
Cato Bass reveals she was inspired by the apartheid era nuclear programme and its abandonment. “I thought there was a great story in that but I wanted it to be contemporary. So I wrote a western with a bomb and a host of other mad ideas. When I returned to the script years later I realised that what I would like to see in a western is how women react to the same challenges that are usually reserved for men.’
The awards for the Most Promising Documentary Projects, judged by the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA), the IDFA Fund and WorldView, went to Kenyan project Logs of War (directed by Anjali Nayar and Hawa Essuman) and South African project The Devil’s Lair (produced by Neil Brandt and directed by Riaan Hendricks).
Says Brandt: “It’s great that the potential of the film has been recognised. Getting feature documentary films financed is no simple task as ever more filmmakers compete for a smaller pot of funds. This award is another step towards completing our financial plan and will secure our place at the IDFA Documentary Financing Forum in Amsterdam in November.
“Our relationship with the WorldView fund is sure to open some doors that may have otherwise been harder to knock on. I have already been contacted by two international distributors on the basis of the press from the award.’
The Devil’s Lair looks at the struggles of a community against crime and the challenges faced by ex-convicts.
Says director Riaan Hendricks: “The film has characters caught in a real dilemma with the ensuing conflict forcing them to make drastic life and death choices. Our visually engaging trailer accompanied the pitch at Durban FilmMart and delivered on all the promises we made during the presentation,’ comments Hendricks.
Anjali Nayar reveals that she and Hawa Essuman were “super pleased’ to win their award for Logs of War. “It was our first pitch and we were very nervous. Thank goodness no-one could tell. We had the opportunity to meet some great potential collaborators on our project in Durban. Hawa and I are looking forward to pitching again at IDFA.’
Logs of War exposes the environmental and war crimes of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Nayar conceived the project when reporting on environmental networks. “It got to the point where I knew I needed to do something longer, more nuanced, that addresses the tricky balance between development and environmental and social destruction.’
Arte France awarded the Best Feature Film Project award of 6 000 €uros to Steven Markovitz and Wanuri Kahiu for Jambula Tree, a South Africa / Kenya co-production.
Director and producer Joel Karekezi’s Rwandan feature project, The Mercy of the Jungle, was awarded Canal France International’s Most Promising Project award.
Videovision Entertainment’s Best South African Film Project prize of R75 000 was awarded to The Visit, a coproduction by Imraan Jeeva, Omar Khan and Sara Blecher and directed by Nadia Davids.
By Joanna Sterkowicz
Screen Africa magazine – August 2012