Focus Features’ Africa First program for short films, an initiative for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, has named the winners of this year’s five $10,000 awards.
The awards go to Ms Chika Anadu, from Nigeria, for The Marriage Factor, a contemporary comedy/drama about a young woman and her marriage-minded mother; Mr Lev David, from South Africa, for Boy and Bear, a fable in which a lonely boy faces up to a monster; Ms Jacqueline Kalimunda, from Rwanda, for Sky Burning Down, a thriller about an illegal immigrant caught in a moral quandary; Ms Ebele Okoye, from Nigeria, for The Legacy of Rubies, an animated account of a young man about to wear the crown; and Mr Julius Onah, from Nigeria, for Nepa Don Quench, a drama about a summer holiday that becomes a test of a family’s mettle.
The $10,000 awards finance pre-production, production, and/or post-production on shorts made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there.
In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers will visit New York for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other, members of the program’s advisory board of African cinema experts, and Focus executives.
The five filmmakers retain the copyrights and distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights, which Focus retains, along with the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts.
Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose Completion Films has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus.
In a statement, Focus CEO James Schamus said: “These five filmmakers are pushing boundaries - geographical and narrative. Once again, everyone at Focus is excited to meet them and get to know this next generation of talent from Africa.”