Earlier this year Focus offered participating film-makers the chance to win financing for production and/or post-production on their narrative short films made in continental Africa and tapping the resources of the film industry there.
The winning film-makers, each of whom will receive $10,000, are: Edouard Bamporiki from Rwanda; Jenna Bass from South Africa; Jan-Hendrik Beetge from South Africa; Dyana Gaye from Senegal; and Wanuri Kahiu from Kenya.
Their shorts are, respectively: Long Coat, a drama about a young Hutu coming to terms with Rwanda's and his own family's past; The Tunnel, a 1980s-set story centering on a ten-year-old girl's quest; The Abyss Boys, a thriller about an illegal trade in a small fishing town; the public transportation musical N'Dar [Saint Louis Blues]; and Pumzi [Breath], a futuristic sci-fi tale.
Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Imani Cameron, whose Completion Films company has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus. Focus creative executive Matthew Plouffe coordinated Africa First submissions and evaluations with Cameron.
In addition to on-site work in Africa, a weekend of workshops in New York City with the programme's international advisory board of experts in African cinema will take place this autumn.
'Given the response to our programme, there was no shortage of new talent to choose from,' Schamus said. 'The final five have great stories to tell that are original in every respect, but what was even more impressive were the scores and scores of other strong projects we were unfortunately not able to help - this time.'
'We are hoping to work closely with these film-makers on any aspects of their films that they want assistance with, so that they can fully realise their artistic visions,' Cameron added. 'I'm so pleased that we found diverse finalists from all over continental Africa.'