A roundtable at Locarno’s 10th co-production lab also focussed on new local and regional initiatives that have recently been launched.
Film-makers from Senegal and Burkina Faso took home two Open Doors awards apiece at the end of Locarno’s 10th edition of its four-day co-production lab which was this year devoted to cinema from Francophone sub-Saharan Africa.
A CHF10,000 grant for post-production went to Malagasy film-maker Laza for his feature-length documentary debut Pieces of Lives, which he is keen to complete this autumn, while a CHF15,000 development grant was awarded to one of Mali’s most promising up-and-coming directors Daouda Coulibaly for the feature debut The Eye.
Another development grant – worth CHF10,000 – went to Burkinabe director Michel K. Zongo for his second feature-length documentary Faso Fani, the End of the Dream, and one with a purse of CHF15,000 for Franco-Senegalese actress-director Mati Diop’s debut feature Fire Next Time.
This year’s Premio ARTE Open Doors, with a purse of €6,000, was also awarded to Faso Fani, the End of the Dream, which has already secured backing from the regional fund in the Rhone-Alpes region and the Montreal-based company Films de l’Oeil.
Moreover, Fire Next Time, which is a spin-off from one of Mati Diop’s previous short films Atlantiques, also received CNC’s €7,000.
Over three days, the film-makers from Francophone sub-Saharan Africa had the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with such potential production partners as public funders Eurimages, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, and Visions Sud Est as well as producers Thierry Lenouvel (Ciné-Sud Promotion), Andreas Eicher (Cineplus), Fabian Massah (Endorphine Production), Guillaume de Seille (Arizona Films), Bärbel Mauch (Bärbel Mauch Film) and Nicole Gerhards (NiKo Film).
In a roundtable on current perspectives in African cinema, special attention was given to several new local and regional initiatives which have been recently launched.
They included the Succès Cinéma Burkina Faso (SCBF) automatic funding scheme which was developed by Burkinabe film-makers in collaboration with Swiss production companies Box Productions and Prince Film and FOCAL, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Veteran director Gaston Kaboré [pictured] explained that the scheme has been inspired by similar ones in France and Switzerland where the funding for a project is based on the number of spectators and must then be reinvested in a future film.
The objective is to have financing for five years with a budget of around €1.5m and only 10% of the resources being used for administration and control of the scheme.
“The fund is currently in a test phase, but we think that what we can do in Burkina Faso can also be done in other African countries,” Kaboré said. “A meeting with Burkinabe professionals was held in February of this year and it could become a strong force for films rooted in their own reality, which can recoup at least some of their budgets from the national markets.”
Malian director Cheick Oumar Sissoko added that such an initiative “leads to the rebirth of cinemas” and pointed out that this non-governmental project would be discussed at the next FESPACO festival in Ouagadougou.
In addition, discussion centred on the recent creation of the Pan-African Film & Audiovisual Fund, based in Tunisia and under the auspices of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), whose goals include the promotion of South-South cooperation.
Meanwhile, Enrico Chiesa of Paris-based idmage spoke about the launching of the mobiCINE venture to take films on the road. “If the people are not going to the cinema, the cinema should go to the people with an appropriate pricing structure,” he said. “There is a whole generation who has never been to a cinema.”
Chiesa admitted that it had been a problem to convince potential cinema-goers in Senegal’s Dakar to pay an entrance fee for the screenings, so an alternative plan had been devised to attract sponsorship for the film programme. Sponsors will enable Intouchables and Viva Riva to be screened in September.
In addition, the ACP Group of States and the European Union has backed the launching of a new VOD platform, AfricaFilms.tv, to reinforce the African and Caribbean film sectors and serve the diaspora in the North and Black culture fans worldwide.
During this year’s Open Doors, producers Golda Sellam and Samanta Gandolfi Branca of Lugano-based Céleste Images presented a photo exhibition in Locarno connected with one of last year’s Open Doors Indian projects, the documentary Burqa Boxers by Alka Raghuram, which they are co-producing with the USA’s Junoon Pictures and France’s 24 Images.
The producing duo are also working on another documentary, Elephant Memories by Philippe Gautier about a four-year old girl who has grown up in a forest in South India amongst elephants. France 5 is co-producing.
Finally, according to unconfirmed reports, the 11th edition of Open Doors in 2013 will be dedicated to the Caucasus region.